HoloLens: Making the impossible possible

Adult male wearing HoloLens glasses in front of a monitor showing what he sees

As we recently shared via a press release, we’re doing some really exciting work with HoloLens. Most exciting of all: we’re discovering ways to make the impossible possible. Here are some examples of what we’re finding.

Nursing Education

In roughly 10% of nursing programs in the US, actors are hired and trained to play the role of patients with certain pathologies. These actors are referred to as “standardized patients.” The challenge: finding, hiring, training, and maintaining a highly-skilled and diverse set of standardized patients is incredibly expensive and complex. Nursing programs would love to have standardized patients as part of their solution, but the cost and complexity makes this all but impossible.

At Educause 2016, we announced our partnership with San Diego State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. In close collaboration with our partners, we’re building a set of standardized patient holograms that will bring the value of standardized patients to nursing programs at a fraction of the cost and with much less complexity to deliver.


Great history teachers make the past come alive for their students by studying actual artifacts from ancient civilizations. In examining an artifact like an arrowhead, students can learn to think like historians and make informed inferences about the type of civilization that produced such objects. In the absence of actual written records, students “read” the past through these artifacts. But gaining access to actual artifacts from ancient civilizations is incredibly difficult. Sure, students can look at pictures and videos of these objects, but these 2D representations fail to accurately depict the detail and complexity of these 3D phenomena.

Our solution: in partnership with Canberra Grammar School in Australia, we’re building a holographic box of artifacts that bring ancient objects to high school students. So instead of reading about ancient Chinese architecture or looking at a picture of a 3,000-year-old house, students can walk inside the house and experience for themselves what it was like to live inside such a structure.


As students move from basic arithmetic to more advanced forms of mathematics, visualization becomes increasingly vital. But most students struggle with visualizing complex mathematical phenomena; they memorize algorithms and regurgitate them on tests, but they fail to grasp what they actually mean and how they can be applied to the real world. Software programs like Autograph and Mathematica help bridge this gap, but the 2D visual models these programs produce suffer the same problem as the historical artifacts: they simply fail to represent these phenomena as they really are.

Our solution: also in partnership with Canberra Grammar School, we’re creating rich, three dimensional holographic models that allow students to see math in a whole new way.

We’re doing similar things with chemistry, anatomy, physiology, art and design, and economics. We’re just getting started, but we see incredible potential!