The HoloLens team is finally beginning to realize that to truly engage the mainstream, augmented reality needs to make its way out of the lab or factory floor and onto the streets.
The latest example of this comes in the form of a new AR art installation called "Unmoored," which transforms New York City's Time Square into an underwater environment.
Created by artist Mel Chin, the interactive art installation is a location-specific AR experience designed to allow viewers to imagine a future in which global warming has resulted in catastrophe for New York, flooding the city with sea water and forcing residents to travel once busy streets via boats.
What makes this experience unique is that it begins with another, very real and touchable piece of art situated in Times Square titled "Wake." The "Wake" piece is meant to represent the hull of a fallen ship, sitting at the bottom of the new sea floor, surrounded by Manhattan's buildings.
After visitors view the submerged hull, they don the HoloLens and then watch as the ship ascends to sea level and joins the traffic of other ships traveling high above street level as viewers watch from the new sea floor.
"Mixed reality helps me because it's agony to have thoughts and dreams and visions and not have them realized," said Chin in a post on Microsoft's website. "Having an opportunity like this conquers that demon. Not silencing, but expanding a vision."
This art installation follows another location-specific HoloLens experience called "Godzilla Nights," which allowed HoloLens users to watch as a giant, AR version of the famed monster emerged from behind real Tokyo buildings.
The new "Unmoored" project is not only a powerful message regarding the potential dangers of climate change, but it's also an incredibly innovative way to show off what location-based AR is capable of with the HoloLens.
Developed in partnership with Microsoft, the "Unmoored" HoloLens experience went on for three days earlier this month, but anyone can still give it a try via smartphone using the installation's app for iOS and Android. The mobile AR experience will be available until September 5.