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Dancing in digital rain: HoloLens used to see real-time motion capture

Augmented reality headsets might not be able to create entire digital worlds for you to walk around in, but they can do a lot of things that VR headsets cannot, such as layering the visual data from a motion-capture recording over that of the real-world actor. That was something that the WholoDance project played around with during development using a HoloLens headset, and it seemed to work very well.

WholoDance is a program that looks into new ways to teach dance, especially through technology, while preserving cultural history within the movements. HoloLens and augmented reality were an exciting development for the project, as it let the developers try out something very new.

Not only could the director of the motion-capture project view the dancer’s digital form while she was dancing next to it, but immediately afterwards, they were able to play back the moving 3D model to the dancer herself, who while wearing the headset, was able to critique her own performance and that of the capture technology.

That in itself could be of great help to dancers, who traditionally rely on 2D recordings to analyze their performance. However, being able to see it so quickly in 3D and be able to walk around their digital ghost could be extremely useful. As motion capture developer, Jasper Brekelmans, said of the project (via RoadtoVR), “Nuances of how the hips moved during balancing or how footwork looked for example became much more apparent and clear when walking around a life-size 3D character in motion than watching the same thing on a 2D screen.”

One aspect that is likely to be improved in the future though, is interaction. In the video above we see Brekelmans and the dancers utilizing an Xbox gamepad for inputs. While there are certainly more intuitive ways to interact with a virtual space, it was felt that a reliable, well tested controller would be better suited than something which the team were less familiar with, like motion controls or voice commands.

The WholoDance project is also interested in experimenting with someone dancing while wearing the headset, potentially giving them a HUD or overlay of information which could help with certain movements, or even learning the dances in the first place.