This is not your kid’s video game.
It’s for designing a kitchen, not shooting aliens.
The HoloLens mixed reality gizmo is in the cabinetry section at the Lynnwood Lowe’s.
What’s up with that?
Put on the HoloLens visor and a life-sized holographic kitchen appears before your eyes. Choose countertops and other options at the point of a finger.
The kitchen looks real when wearing the funny glasses. And, yeah, people look real funny when wearing those glasses, flailing their fingers at invisible objects and swaying like stoners at a rock fest.
Two people can “play” at a time. Herald photographer Ian Terry and I tried it out and got some weird looks from shoppers. We couldn’t stop laughing as we swayed and gestured in the shell of a showroom kitchen.
It was as much fun as shooting aliens.
After creating my dream kitchen of white cabinets, copper sink and gray granite, I made the island six feet high and rammed it into the fridge. OK, so maybe my video game skills need honing. Nobody died before Ian saved the day.
Applications of Microsoft’s HoloLens have been used by astronauts and car engineers. Lowe’s partnered with Microsoft to offer it to ordinary folks to design a kitchen.
“There are only two stores that have it. This store here and one in North Carolina,” said Lowe’s HoloLens technician Tin Tran.
Try out the HoloLens at the Lynnwood store from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. It’s free. No appointment needed.
“People can show up any time. If I’m not here they can schedule a time,” Tran said. “Call up the store and say, ‘Hey, I want to try the 3D.’ ”
Mixed reality blends 3D holographic content into the physical world, giving holograms real-world context and scale, allowing users to interact with both digital content and the world around them.
The HoloLens lets users see and try a dozen cabinet and countertop options as well as appliance finishes, backsplashes, sinks and knobs. The design is saved and can be sent in an email with items, prices and links to the website.
“It’s just an added tool so people can be more comfortable making their decision,” Tran said. “They can see that this counter works with this cabinet. They can see the color and styles. It’s not so daunting.”
It was dazzling how realistic everything looked through those glasses. In reality, there’s only a basic kitchenette shell. No cabinets or island or window over the sink.
“This place could have been empty,” Tran said, “but they wanted a little bit, so people can actually touch a counter.”
A miniature hologram kitchen allows users to also see an overview of their design for reference during the session.
Lowe’s isn’t the usual place video game experts Kim Correa and Danny Baranowsky expected to get their gaming fix.
“We were coming to look for a dishwasher. I didn’t think we would find a HoloLens in Lowe’s,” said Baranowsky, who writes music for video games.
The Bothell couple use virtual reality devices such as Oculus and Vibe for games and art.
“It’s nice to see practical purposes of this stuff. Planning out a kitchen is a totally practical thing,” Baranowsky said.
Correa, a student at University of Washington Bothell studying video games, was impressed with the realism of the HoloLens.
“You can build your whole kitchen with this and see it. I’m bad at picturing things,” she said. “Changing the cabinets and the oven was cool. The depth of the sink was interesting.”
Sorry, kids. You’ll have to stick with shooting aliens. This is only for ages 18 and up.