Tag Archives: microsoft

Microsoft HoloLens

The HoloLens was originally announced on 21 January 2015.

But it was the systems appearance at the E3 expo in America that demonstrated its abilities, including those for playing minecraft in an innovative way.

Although similar in appearance to Virtual Reality goggles the system works in a completely different way, by projecting virtual components (holograms) into a view of the real world, this is called Augmented reality.

It is believed that the HoloLens will cost between £300-£600. It is not likely that it will be available before 2016.

This system has great potential for a number of areas within Archaeology and Cultural Heritage including virtual museums, where 3D recreations of artifacts are visible to the viewer next to fragments. Or for site tours/or visits to sites of historical interest where a 3D recreation model of the site is visible on top of the excavated remains.

Those who have used it have suggested that it has a limited field of view for the Immersive elements. And it is quite expensive.


Microsoft Kinect for Windows v2

The Kinect for Windows v2 Sensor is the Windows equivalent of the Kinect which was shipped with the Xbox One Entertainment System. It is designed for the development of applications enabling humans to interact with their computers using gestures and speaking via the colour camera, infrared (IR) emitter and a microphone array built into the Kinect. The Kinect v1 for Windows was previously released after the Xbox 360.
Kinect for Windows v2

The v2 has significant improvements over the v1, including three times higher depth fidelity, twenty times the resolution and the ability to record full 1080p video.
Kinect Features

But of importance to the archaeological and heritage recording community is the fact that the latest version of the Software Development Kit also comes with Kinect Fusion, a product that was previously available for the first Kinect. This software allows the Kinect to scan and record its environment in 3D thank to its 6 degrees of freedom transform (the original x, y ,z, roll, pitch and yaw of camera) which can determine the original position of the sensor and how much and in what way the kinect has moved between scans. This allows the Kinect software to align the original raw depth map (3D positional data recorded calculated from the time it takes for the light from the camera to reach the object and return (time-of-flight)) with all those that are recorded after it, which can then be used to create a mesh of the complete environment getting recorded, with a 3D representation being created. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/kinectforwindows/archive/2014/08/21/updated-preview-sdk-now-available.aspx


The Kinect for Windows v2 Sensor costs £159.

The previous version was used in a number of useful archaeological application such as;

As the Kinect v2 is much more powerful it has a much greater potential for being used as a cheap/quality object scanner. It also has great potential for creating interactive immersive site tours , possibly in combination with the Oculus Rift VR Headset, where the gestures of the user determine what happens in the 3D representation of the site.
It also has application in 3D GIS such as where studies in Archaeological Visibility could be conducted first hand within the environment.
If it can be made battery powered and a laptop with sufficient power is used it could also add to recording on archaeological sites, providing a quick easy method of 3D scanning objects/areas.

The Kinect has previously also been used in the design of autonomous UAVs, these scan the environment with the Kinect Sensor and determine where obstructions are and help to navigate, or what hasn’t been scanned and directs the UAV towards these areas.

Unity plugin.

The hardware requirements of the Kinect v2 are quite high so providing it with a computer capable of running it may lesson any 3D scanning cost reduction presented by the cheap cost of the hardware itself. Microsoft provide a configuration tool to check whether a computer system is capable of running it.

  • Operating system – Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Embedded Standard or Windows Embedded Standard 8.1
  • Processor – 64-bit (x64), physical dual-core 3.1-Ghz or faster processor.
  • Memory – 4GB RAM.
  • Graphics card – DirectX11 compatible graphics card.
  • Port – Dedicated USB 3 controller.

Similar Systems

The DPI-7 handheld mobile imager kit is a handheld scanner which attaches to a 7-inch tablet computer running the android operating system, it uses the Phi.3D real-time 3D capture software for mobile platforms.

Much like the Kinect it can perform realtime markerless camera tracking through its 6 degrees of freedom tracking and can create full coloured 3D models


The DPI-7 costs $5,499, which is significantly more than the Kinect, although it does simply interface with an Android tablet making it portable straight away.


The Structure Sensor Kickstarter Project by Occipital is a device that attaches to mobile devices, only the iPad currently, and using structured light the infrared sensor creates a depth map of the scene it is recording, the colour data is gathered from the camera of the iPad itself.

Interestingly, PrimeSense the company who developed the infrared detector for the Structural Sensor and the 3D sensor for the first Microsoft Kinect, has recently been purchased by Apple suggesting that they will integrate the technology into their devices – http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/07/11/apples-secret-plans-for-primesense-3d-tech-hinted-at-by-new-itseez3d-ipad-app
A recently released App in the App Store, itSeez3D, also uses the Structure Sensor its 3D Scanner. The itSeez app can upload its captured data into the cloud for advance processing, with the resultant 3D model being delivered within minutes.


The sensor costs $379 for the sensor alone, or $499 together with the Skanect Pro 3D Scanning software. You need to purchase an iPad as well to attach the sensor to.

Both of these technologies provide a completely mobile method of recording.