April 2022 Wall Layout Update: Cool Preview

DK/ April 10, 2022/ What's Next

Picture of a wall with shelves and multiple computers and monitors

I have made several major updates to the wall layout since June 2021. I got rid of most of the old monitors and replaced them with 4K TVs, added a Cisco Precision 60 conference camera mounted to the mounting plate from the June 2021 tablet mount solution, which is mounted to a monitor arm, and replaced the inverted Alienware mousepad with a VESA keyboard mounting solution turned upside-down and covered with mousepads. The larger surface area allows me to move the mouse pointer all the way across all of the monitors without running off the edge and having to pick up the mouse and move it back to the other side of the mousepad. It is also a great place to put a touchpad and whatever other input devices I happen to be using.

I also added a Microsoft HoloLens (1st Gen), formerly known as the Developer Edition.

Microsoft HoloLens 1st Gen, case, and clicker sitting on a table
It's everything that the 90s promised and more!

The first generation HoloLens is practically useless today, but it is still extremely cool. It was originally released in 2016. The HoloLens 2 was released in 2019, and active development for the first generation largely stopped.

Although it runs Windows 10, the last update for "Holographic Edition" was in 2018. It is limited to pre-Chromium legacy Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Store apps, and sideloaded development apps, and it cannot launch/install Win32 applications. I have not found much material that covers modding the operating system to enable Win32 applications or install Chrome or Chromium-based Edge. I suspect that it is because the first generation HoloLens was a $3000 product that required filling out an application and being accepted by Microsoft in order to get one. The one article that I did find is for an app that is no longer in the Microsoft Store, but the article linked to the author's GitHub account which has some promising sideloading possibilities. According to this article, as of April 2018, only 50,000 units had been sold. The first generation HoloLens was discontinued and went out of stock in October 2018. Even if they sold another 50,000 from April to October, there just are not that many units out there, which makes it difficult for a modding community to form. I lucked out and managed to find this one on eBay for $485 shipped, and it's in like-new condition. Lately on eBay, most of them have been hovering around the $1000 range.

View of web browser window through Microsoft HoloLens 1st Generation
This picture does not do the experience justice, as the display is crisp and sharp and doesn't have those color effects in it when you're actually looking through it. And sometimes you put a hologram somewhere and then go somewhere else, and then the next day, you're going about your business and run into the hologram with the weather report in it that you left in the kitchen.
The HoloLens can display 3D holograms in your environment. I choose to be reminded of nature.

Luckily, there is still plenty of support for developing apps for it. It is capable of running Unity apps and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps that are normally installed through the Microsoft Store. I have not yet found an optimized solution for remote desktop that has acceptable performance and scalability, but I did find a Unity asset called uDesktopDuplication that can render the Windows desktop within Unity, and supports multiple monitors. Unity also features a Wi-Fi Holographic Remoting option for running applications on a host computer and using the HoloLens display and its sensors, and sending keyboard and mouse input from the headset back to the host computer. The HoloLens has Bluetooth and is compatible with almost any Bluetooth peripheral that can be used on Windows 10, including keyboards and mice.

This means that I can make a holographic version of the monitors on the wall, and then be able to spawn them anywhere and use them from anywhere. Eventually, this can likely be converted into using virtual monitors and/or active video port adapters (which make the computer think that there are displays plugged in even when there are not), and the monitors will not even be necessary. All of that can work with a laptop with a discrete graphics adapter and a decent Wi-Fi connection.

In the future, I will write a post about my app development efforts!