The latest video out of Microsoft brings together two topics of fascination for geeks everywhere: augmented reality and outer space.

A team of Microsoft developers is working hard to take the winning concept from the company’s HoloLens: Share Your Idea contest and turn it into a real app for use with the augmented reality headset. Galaxy Explorer will allow users to use voice commands and gestures to navigate through the Milky Way, “landing” on planets and seeing the surfaces of their room transformed to mimic Mars or the Moon.

It’s a cool idea, and one that entails some interesting challenges for designers: How do you comfortably zoom from a very large to a very small scale? What’s the best way to integrate audio into what has until now been a largely visual medium?

If successful, the app could provide a model for educational uses of HoloLens (and augmented reality in general). The team of 11 core members aims to have something ready to show at Microsoft’s Build developer conference on March 30—around the time the first HoloLens developer units will start shipping—and they’re sharing updates on their progress on the Microsoft Studios website.


The latest video details the team’s initial brainstorming process, in which they tossed around ideas such as letting users sweep their hand to extract the core of a planet. Some of these became prototypes, which you can also take a glimpse of on the site. Microsoft has said it will offer the app as a free, open-source project in order to inspire other developers interested in innovating with HoloLens.