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!


Get your hands (and ears) on Apple’s new AirPods — here’s where to find them

Apple's new AirPods with wireless charging are the latest version of the much-loved wireless earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't widely available yet. Here's where you can find them right now, and where they will show up soon.

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.
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.

Samsung files a VR patent featuring a curved OLED display

Doubling down on its emphasis on curved displays, Samsung recently filed a design patent for a new virtual reality headset that could feature a curved OLED display, which would be an interesting development in VR.

Bringing realism to VR is complex, but these developers found a way in holograms

Making virtual reality feel real is the hardest job of all VR developers. For Awake: Episode One, StartVR used volumetric recording, rather than motion capture, to bring its characters to life like never before.

HP’s high-resolution VR headset provides comfort and Windows Mixed Reality

HP's new VR headset reportedly offers an exceptionally high resolution, highlights comfort and runs on Windows Mixed Reality. HP hasn't officially announced the new headset, but here's a look at some of its features.
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.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Focus Plus makes it easier for developers to port PC content

HTC Vive has announced the Vive Focus Plus headset. The upgraded stand-alone headset makes use of "six degrees of freedom" support in controllers for a PC-like virtual reality experience.

Here’s how to watch Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 press conference

It is widely believed that Microsoft's WMC conference will be the stage for the unveiling of the next generation of its HoloLens mixed reality headset. We have the live stream right here.

Microsoft unveils $3,500 HoloLens 2 at MWC 2019. Here’s what you need to know

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.

Nissan designers use HaptX VR gloves to shape future cars

New car designs usually start out as clay before becoming metal, but designers are now swapping clay for pixels. Nissan is using virtual reality gloves from HaptX that give designers a tactile feel of virtual models.