Microsoft takes the Mannequin Challenge using HoloLens and the Actiongram app

Over the last several weeks, a viral challenge has appeared on Twitter in the form of “#MannequinChallenge,” pushing users to create short clips of humans pretending to be mannequins. So far, these clips have ranged from a Walking Dead-inspired scene, to a dog watching a movie and eating Cheetos on the couch, to the Sesame Street crew frozen on the set, and to a huge crowd frozen in place as they cheer Marshmello. Naturally, Microsoft’s HoloLens team couldn’t refuse.

The video embedded above uses Actiongram, a tool provided for HoloLens users to create experiences without the need for visual effects experience or 3D skills. The video showcases Microsoft’s dedicated studio for converting real-world creatures, objects, characters, and actors into holograms. In turn, these holograms are inserted into video content, mixing real and virtual together into a fun experience.

“Creators are able to develop their own unique holographic stories, in their world, to express their thoughts, ideas, and delight people,” Kudo Tsunoda, Microsoft’s CVP of Next Gen Experiences in the Windows and Devices group, said in March. “Actiongram allows people to create videos with holograms and advanced visual effects that would normally require expensive software and years of experience to do.”

According to Tsunoda, the Actiongram app was created by a team of five individuals during a six-month time frame. The team set out to create a tool enabling HoloLens owners the ability to create high quality content with virtually no skills, opening the HoloLens doors to storytellers to unfold their experiences using holograms. Additional examples outside the current Mannequin Challenge include an astronaut walking in a bathtub full of bubbles, a thumb war pitting a giant hand against a soldier, and more.

As seen in the Mannequin Challenge video above, the team created a hologram that includes George Takei as he watches one of the Actiongram monitors. Just like the knight and the dragon, the rendering of the Takei hologram isn’t 100-percent smooth as the camera pans the scene. Pause the video and you’ll see his true artificial nature sporting flattened hands and a not-so-natural outline.

Actiongram is currently provided to all HoloLens owners as a beta in the Windows Store. Microsoft opened the doors to its Development Edition version of HoloLens earlier this year, essentially allowing anyone with $3,000 to purchase and use the augmented reality headset. The company has no clue as to when or even if a consumer version will hit the market, but the upcoming VR/AR headsets offered by third-party manufacturers for the Windows 10 Creators Edition is likely what Microsoft had in mind for the general market.

That said, there’s a good chance Actiongram will be one of the apps served up to consumers when the third-party VR/AR headsets go live next spring. Until then, check out all the cool holographic experiences made by owners of the HoloLens Development Edition and Actiongram thus far!

Home Theater

Vizio is still rocking the Black Friday spirit with these TV and soundbar deals

If you missed out on all the great TV deals this past Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don't worry, Vizio has you covered. The company has some great discounts on its most popular 4K TVs and sounbar systems. But don't delay -- some of these…
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for December 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on standalone consoles, as well as bundles that feature games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Deals

The Super NES Classic is the perfect holiday gift for Nintendo lovers

Whether you're a long-time Nintendo fan looking to relive the 16-bit glory days or just doing some holiday shopping, the SNES Classic -- now in stock at multiple retailers for $80 -- might just be the perfect Christmas gift for gamers of…
Computing

Don’t even bother with the rest. Here are the only laptop brands that matter

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s $480M contract with U.S. military will equip soldiers with Hololens

Microsoft recently won a $480 million contract to equip American soldiers with up to 100,000 of its augmented reality Hololens headsets. Here's what we know so far about the new deal.