Movies such as Minority Report, Star Wars and Back to the Future have provided the world a view into the future of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). Early this year, Microsoft announced a wearable, holographic computer called Microsoft HoloLens that allowed the user to overlay 2D and 3D objects in a real-world living and work space.

Autodesk began working with Microsoft last year on a joint project called ‘FreeForm’ to build a proof of concept with Fusion 360 and HoloLens, the goal being to explore what could be possible for the everyday designer/engineer using HoloLens. Going beyond merely creating a holographic 3D model, mixed reality changes every aspect of how one works with their data, environment, peers and customers.

Having sensed the possibilities for 3D engineering and industrial design, and to leverage the full potential of HoloLens, the Autodesk team spent several months building dozens of prototypes and tested many scenarios to understand how customers could benefit most from a mixed reality environment. They explored ways to make work areas have infinite space by using walls and open areas overlaid with holographic objects; studied how users could collaborate by looking at the same holographic model and being able to walk around it and discuss various aspects of the design as if it were really sitting on their table; and investigated the possibilities of creating and editing directly from a holographic model, as well as pitching a final design to an executive team or a customer. 

All these possibilities are coming to fruition in the FreeForm project. To help users understand the full experience, Autodesk has put together a video that illustrates how a mechanical engineer and an industrial designer can work together in holographic space to solve various tasks in a far more collaborative way.

The joint HoloLens and Fusion 360 project is still in development.