The Microsoft HoloLens is still awaiting a commercial release, but since the company started shipping Development Edition headsets around the world last year we've already begun to see some fascinating potential real-world applications. Air New Zealand has recently revealed it has been working with Dimension Data to use the mixed reality smartglasses as a way of enhancing its cabin crew services.
The airline's project is still at an experimental stage, but it demonstrates an interesting implementation of the technology. When looking at a passenger, the HoloLens allows the flight attendant to immediately get a display of their details, preferred meal, travel plans and even the time elapsed since their last drink.
The video from Air New Zealand also implies that some work is being done on detecting a passenger's emotional state, possibly through facial expressions or heart rate detection. We see the passenger's mood in the video shift from "anxious" to "calm" after an interaction with the flight attendant, although we do wonder if our mood could shift in the other direction when approached by someone wearing such a confronting headset.
As an early demonstration of how the HoloLens could be applied in real-life this is a compelling case for the device's existence. We noted when we reviewed the developer kit last year that despite the technology still being "not quite ready for prime time", we could see amazing potential for where it could eventually go.
The current headsets are inarguably bulky and we can't see them being introduced into mainstream use in this iteration, but Air New Zealand may be ahead of the curve here. This kind of innovative application for augmented reality devices is a clever way to improve customer service, and maybe make sure that your vegetarian meal doesn't get misplaced on that long flight.
Take a look at the system in action in the video below.
Source: Air New Zealand