Source Code for HoloLens Application described in M. Kinateder, J. Gualtieri, M.J. Dunn, W. Jarosz, X. Yang and E.A. Cooper. 2018. Using an Augmented Reality Device as a Distance-Based Vision Aid – Promise and Limitations. Optometry & Vision Science. 2018. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001232
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HoloLens App for displaying distance-based shaders


This application is based of the MS HoloToolkit and in particular it uses the spatial mapping abilities. Basic familiarity with developing and deploying for MS HoloLens is assumed.

To get started with HoloLens, follow tutorials on the HoloAcademy website (Holograms 101, 212, and 230 in particular):

For ease of use, some assets from the HoloToolkit are included.


See MS installation checklist:

builds with:

Visual Studio 2015 Update 3

Unity 5.4.0f3

make sure project is set up to work with Github:


Deploying the app

  1. Clone repo to your computer
  2. Open project in Unity (make sure that the CCShader scene is loaded)
  3. Build and Deploy (see HoloAcademy for tutorials)

Using the app

General App description

The app simplifies a visual scene by overlaying colored augmentations. The application measures the distance of surfaces and objects in the environment from the user by accessing the HoloLens's spatial mesh. Distances are then discretized and mapped into a set of bands, each with a unique color value. The bands are directly overlaid semi-transparently on the environment in stereoscopic 3D when viewed through the displays

Clicker and keyboard commands

  • Toggle augmentations: The user can toggle the augmentations by using a paired Bluetooth clicker, airtapping or with the Q and Z key on a paired keyboard.
  • Select augmentations: The user can select the different variations of augmentations using the keyboard:
    • Q -> Shader Off
    • W -> Red to Blue
    • E -> Blue to Red
    • R -> Bright Red to Blue
    • T -> Bright Blue to Red
    • Y -> Orange to Purple
    • U -> Purple to Orange
    • I -> Yellow to Blue
    • O -> Blue to Yellow
    • P -> Blue Luminance
    • A -> Red Luminance
    • S -> Green Luminance
    • D -> Blue to White
    • F -> White to Blue
    • G -> Red to White
    • H -> White to Red
    • J -> Green to White
    • K -> White to Green