Merging real and virtual worlds: An analysis of the state of the art and practical evaluation of Microsoft Hololens

Adrien Coppens

Achieving a symbiotic blending between reality and virtuality is a dream that has been lying in the minds of many people for a long time. Advances in various domains constantly bring us closer to making that dream come true. Augmented reality as well as virtual reality are in fact trending terms and are expected to further progress in the years to come. This master's thesis aims to explore these areas and starts by defining necessary terms such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). Usual taxonomies to classify and compare the corresponding experiences are then discussed. In order to enable those applications, many technical challenges need to be tackled, such as accurate motion tracking with 6 degrees of freedom (positional and rotational), that is necessary for compelling experiences and to prevent user sickness. Additionally, augmented reality experiences typically rely on image processing to position the superimposed content. To do so, "paper" markers or features extracted from the environment are often employed. Both sets of techniques are explored and common solutions and algorithms are presented. After investigating those technical aspects, I carry out an objective comparison of the existing state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice in those domains, and I discuss present and potential applications in these areas. As a practical validation, I present the results of an application that I have developed using Microsoft HoloLens, one of the more advanced affordable technologies for augmented reality that is available today. Based on the experience and lessons learned during this development, I discuss the limitations of current technologies and present some avenues of future research.

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