Floating HoloLens Screen

Those who have seen my HoloLens apps (most notably Walk the World
) have noticed I tend to use floating “info screens”, especially for help screens. My apps are mostly voice command driven as I don’t like to have floating controls that are in view all of the time. They stress the fact that you are in an virtual environment, and that degrades the actual immersive experience, IMHO. So I go as much for gestures and voice as possible.

But where there are no visual clues for functionality, there’s also lack of discoverability. So I tend to include a voice command “help” or “show help” that brings up a simple floating screen that shows what the app can do.

A few important things that you might not see right away:

  • The screen follows your gaze
  • The screen tries to move away from you to be readable, but will stop moving if it get’s pushed against an obstacle. So it won’t disappear into another hologram or a physical object, like the wall or a floor. Or at least it tries to. I must admit it does not always works perfectly.
  • Notice that at first it will appears like 1 meter before you and move into view, next time it will appears where you last left it and then move into view.

In a two-part post I will describe how I have created such a screen.

  • The first part will handle building the actual visual structure in Unity (and one little behavior)
  • The second part describes the code for all other Unity behaviors.

I am going to assume you know a bit about Unity but not too much, so there’s going to be lot of images.

Setting up a base project …

The basic setup of an info screen …

Background plane …

Setting some color and reflection …

Changing the collider …

Adding text …

Building the button …

A little code for dessert…

Conclusion

We have built the visual parts of a help screen but with very little functionality or interaction. It’s actually not hard to do, if you know what you are doing. I hope I have helped you getting a bit more feeling for that.

In the next installment, which will hardly contain images, we will see WAY more code.

The project so far can be found at GitHub
, as always.

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