Mixed Reality, UX, ID

Microsoft + WWU

The Microsoft HoloLens, the first fully untethered holographic computer, brings high-definition holograms into your space. Unlike virtual reality, in mixed reality you can still interact with the people, objects, and environment around you. Researching a specific area that the HoloLens could benefit from, an experience was designed around this mixed reality space.

10 Week Timeline


WWU Industrial Designers 

Emma Nestvold

Emily Bartlett

Justin Janczakowski


User Research / Interviews / Concepting / UX Mapping / User Experience / Conceptual Development / Programming


Workspace 1: Graphic Design Company

Workspace 1: Graphic Design Company

Workspace 2: Architectural Firm

Workspace 2: Architectural Firm

Workspace 3: Home Office Studio

Workspace 3: Home Office Studio

Workspace 4: Engineering & Design Office

Workspace 4: Engineering & Design Office



Home, Collaborative, and Individual Workspaces

What current problems exist in the office space? Under the assumption that products help define our environments, we sought to discover what products define a workspace. Ten working professionals were interviewed in four different office spaces.




Key Findings 

CURRENT SOLUTIONS ARE DISTRACTING  Organizational devices are also distractors. The Internet and smart phones are common means of keeping organized in today’s workplace. Unfortunately, these devices are also very distracting, making it difficult to stay on task. 

WORKSPACES ARE GLOBALIZED  Worker are managing global clientele, as companies around the world become more and more connected. Managing time changes and overlapping working hours is difficult and can make or break a company’s success. 

TRACKING HOURS IS TRICKY Office workers keep track of numerous tasks, clients, and projects. Keeping track of to-do lists, rewriting notes from meetings, and noting billable hours by project all contribute to valuable hours underutilized. 

ORGANIZING INFORMATION TAKES TIME  Orchestrating project notes, documents and meetings for different projects takes time. Keeping track of different past documents from many different projects also can be challenging. 




Project Direction

Time management problems will persist into the age of mixed reality. The HoloLens cannot solve this problem on its own because office workers will need to manage their time outside of time spent using the HoloLens. A separate solution is needed that addresses time management for the office worker in mixed reality. Historically, measuring time can be broken up into three different eras. Cosmic, mechanical, and digital. In mixed reality, the office worker needs to manage time in the past, present, and future.




Physical Form

While exploring forms, we determined the need for the device to be primarily circular to mirror the cyclic nature of time. In exploring how the device should interact, we came to the conclusion that it needed to function both inside and outside mixed reality.




Ring Shape

The decided design direction is ring shaped because it creates a void for the hologram to fill. Circles are the classic shape to represent time for good reason, time is a constant cycle.  




User Interactions

Storyboarding was used to help demonstrate complex interactions. Designing for mixed reality, it was necessary to give an example day-in-the-life office worker.




CAD Iterations

Many iterations of the timepiece were designed and evaluated. While the project is very conceptual, realistic manufacturability and attainable technology stayed a priority along the way. 




Shift to Physical Simplicity

The timepiece is purely a time management device. Unlike a smartphone or computer, there are no added distractions. Products in mixed reality have a shift in functionality. Our solution has physical simplification of form and function with added functionality in mixed reality. 




Cohesive with the HoloLens

The form language is cohesive with that of the HoloLens to mirror the seamlessness of the timepiece’s mixed reality experience.

HoloLens: Inset Logo

HoloLens: Inset Logo

HoloLens: Visible Partlines

HoloLens: Visible Partlines

HoloLens: Subtle Curvature

HoloLens: Subtle Curvature




Spacial Time

Working in 3D space required additional design consideration. Instead of having a 2-dimensional interface, you know have a 3-dimensional interface that is capable of tracking your body movements as an input. The user can switch between these three modes using a single button on the side. The interface connects poetically to the physical form, enhancing the user’s mixed reality experience. What should be accessible at different times and different locations? How does speed of input interactions change the resulting output feedback? 

Past Mode: Time Distribution

Present Mode: Current Time

Future Mode: Event Countdown




Low-fidelity versions of the concept were tested in mixed reality using the Hololens. The holographic ring menu was found to be a compelling means of displaying the interface options.




Ring Menu

After playing in mixed reality, our team came to the conclusion that holographic interactions constrained to a physical form creates a very magical experience. Therefore, the holographic ring menu for each mode will stay locked to the given location of the timepiece. In the HoloLens, the user's eyes control the cursor. Looking at the timepiece in a given mode will cause the ring menu to appear. Adjacent rings part to clearly show which ring is selected. 







Programming the Neopixal

To test the concept, an Arduino was programmed in C++. This displays three modes, while also considering the manufacturability of both parts of the concept. 





Internal Components

Exploded view of componentry was made to understand the electronics. While the design is highly conceptual, realistic manufacturing and componentry was kept in mind along the way. 




Mixed Reality Office

Since HoloLens does not root workers to their desks, timepiece can move around easily with the user as they navigate their day-to-day activities. It’s rechargeable, Li-ion battery lasts for hours away from the base. The timepiece was designed to comfortably fit in the hand.