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Microsoft just released a fully functional, Terminator-style HUD for HoloLens

If you’ve watched any movies about killer robots, then you have seen the stereotypical Terminator-like heads-up display. It’s usually oddly colored to connote non-human vision and it flashes various threat assessments and other information across the robot’s field of view.

Setting aside the question of why a walking computer would require a visual display of the very same information that is already contained in its memory, the Terminator HUD is a staple of science fiction movies and TV. Now, Microsoft has posted a tutorial on how to create your own using HoloLens.

This is no mere graphical representation of a HUD, however. Not only does HoloLens make for a realistic augmented reality (AR) mockup of the T-800 Terminator’s visual field, but the interface can be hooked up to Microsoft Cognitive Services to analyze objects in the physical space — including face detection and limited optical character- recognition (OCR). In other words, it’s not just a gimmick. It’s actually (kinda) functional.

The thermal head-up-display (HUD) featured in James Cameron’s 1984 film The Terminator Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft has put the HUD together as more than just an entertaining exercise. The company is exploring how new technologies are moving beyond the 2D interfaces that have dominated our computing for so long. Input devices, displays, office spaces, and furniture have all been focused on 2D, while modern technology is moving toward 3D and even one-dimensional (1D) interfaces.

The Terminator HUD project combines 3D and 1D to create a “new type of experience that may one day lead to virtual personal assistants that will help us to navigate our world and our lives.” Heady stuff, for sure.

If you have access to a HoloLens and a variety of development tools, including Unity and the Holo Toolkit unity package, then you can follow along and create your own robotic vision of the world. Specifically, you will be putting together a recreation of the T-800 thermal HUD display — but note that Microsoft did not testify as to its effectiveness in searching out Sarah Connor and ensuring the future existence of Skynet.

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