We frequently find our customers and potential users curious about how we compare to other technologies like the HoloLens. In this article, we aim to draw a detailed comparison between the two, focusing on differences in hardware, user experience, real-world applications, and in what situations should you pick one over the other.
Whether you’re considering the adoption of immersive technology or simply wish to understand more, we hope this comparative study will aid in your decision-making process.
Avatour and HoloLens were built for entirely different purposes, and it starts with the hardware. HoloLens is a head mounted device meant to provide context for an on-site user. Avatour uses a 360° camera to capture context for off-site users.
HoloLens is built for “precise, efficient hands-free work”.
Like other smart glasses and AR devices, HoloLens is a standalone headset that overlays digital information onto the real world, allowing users to interact with it using voice commands and gestures. The hardware is built specifically for the operator on site to be able to get work done without the need for a separate monitor or screen.
Avatour, on the other hand, is built for remote collaboration in physical locations.
Avatour uses off-the-shelf 360° cameras to live stream into a virtual meeting where multiple collaborators can look around freely, as if in person. The hardware is entirely customizable depending on the needs of the operator. Typically, the Avatour kit includes a tripod base and extendable stick to allow the person on site to either walk around with the camera, or set it down.
The user experience of the HoloLens is centered around the person wearing the headset.
And although it provides an impressive mixed reality experience, there’s one key limitation. Technological challenges of augmented reality are still evident in the HoloLens, where the area through the glasses in which you can see the digital overlays is still quite narrow at around 30-50° depending on which generation headset you have.
HoloLens also has video communication capabilities, however, you are limited to a first-person viewpoint of the user. This is typically most useful for 1:1 remote assistance use cases.
Avatour, on the other hand, prioritizes remote users in the overall user experience.
The most important thing that Avatour does is to give each remote user the ability to look around freely and completely. Users also have an option of experiencing Avatour via a web browser or a Virtual Reality (VR) headset depending on their needs.
HoloLens has three main applications.
First, it’s used as a hands-free display. HoloLens has been widely used in industries like manufacturing, and construction for processes such as complex assembly, maintenance, and repair. It allows technicians to overlay digital instructions or diagrams on real-world objects, making these processes more efficient.
Second, it’s used to share a first-person viewpoint with remote collaborators. HoloLens facilitates remote assistance and collaboration by allowing the field operator to share exactly what they’re looking at to a remote user, like a subject matter expert (SME), to guide them through tasks.
Lastly, HoloLens can be used to help with the visualization of 3D designs. Architects and engineers can create and interact with 3D models of their designs, making the design process more efficient and intuitive.
Avatour has two main applications: Live or Recorded capture of activities in a real-world space.
Live meetings allow participants to virtually “transport” themselves to a remote location, where they can observe, communicate, and interact with the person on site with the context of their surroundings.
Applications of live meetings are broad and include remote inspections and audits, tours, walkthroughs, and more. When used in this mode, Avatour provides far more context to remote users than standard videoconferencing, or the first-person view from a HoloLens.
Avatour also allows for the recording of 360-degree experiences that can be viewed later.
These immersive recordings provide a sense of presence and scale that traditional video can’t match. It’s an excellent tool for any situation where you want to convey a spatial experience, such as property tours, training sessions, or archival of events or locations. Unlike live sessions, these can be accessed on-demand, providing the viewer with the flexibility to experience them at their convenience.
Why one over the other?
As mentioned earlier, Avatour and HoloLens have two entirely different purposes. So when is one better than the other?
1. When remote users need a specific viewpoint (piece of machinery, electrical panel, etc) → HoloLens is a superior tool when it comes to 1-to-1 remote assist, where a single remote participant like a SME needs to see what the person on site is seeing.
2. When hands-free operation is critical → If the on-site operator cannot hold or set the camera down or if operating the camera puts the on-site personnel at risk, a device like HoloLens is preferred.
1. When conducting remote inspections or observations of large spaces and machinery → other tools simply cannot provide a field-of-view (FOV) large enough to make effective observations remotely.
2. When multiple remote stakeholders need to observe processes and workflows on site → 360° video captures not just what the space looks like, but also what’s happening in the space, which makes Avatour the ideal tool for observing workplaces.
3. When inviting remote stakeholders to visit your sites and facilities → Avatour provides a true, boots-on-the-ground experience that uniquely allows each remote user to control their own 360° view.
Hopefully this overview was helpful in understanding the differences between HoloLens and Avatour. Ultimately, the two have different purposes for use and should not be compared directly. To recap:
Microsoft’s HoloLens is built as a hands-free display that overlays digital information over the real world. It also excels in delivering a specific viewpoint for 1-to-1 remote assistance.
Avatour is built to deliver a 360° view, where remote users can control their own viewpoint. It excels when observing spaces, large machinery, or processes remotely, with more than 1 remote collaborator.