HoloHoops [HoloLens application]


Design and build a proof of concept for a HoloLens application for basketball players. As a designer, it was a great learning experience to design combining the different input forms available for AR: voice, gaze and gestures.

The Product

Mixed reality experience for basketball players to improve their ball-IQ and decision making. In HoloHoops, the player sees three virtual players (attackers) that pass the ball between each other. The player has to make their way to the position where the ball is to defend it under certain time. If he doesn't, his opponents will shoot and score.

My Role

UX Designer


1. Research and Discovery

We conducted in-depth interviews with sports executives, sports consultants, semi-profesional players and coaches. Input gathered during these interviews validated the potential for a Mixed Reality solution to help sports players improve their skills.

2. Analysis

After the Research and Discovery stage we were ready to pick a sport we would focus in. We decided to work with basketball for the following reasons:

  • Resources available: UBC Thunderbirds Basketball Team
  • Team and network had familiarity with the sport
  • Basketball has a profitable industry behind it
  • We had a space big enough to recreate half a basketball court where we could design and develop our proof of concept
User persona
We targeted semi-professional basketball players in college level basketball teams as our users.

3. Design

Iteration Zero: Imagining the experience

In order to get an idea of what the end experience could feel like we recorded the zone defense drill using multiple iPhones. The person acting as the player had an iPhone on his forehead in order to record the experience from the first person perspective. Through these videos we captured what the user wearing the HoloLens would see during the experience.

Iteration #1

This was a lo-fi prototype in which we tested the core idea. We tested this with friends that had experience playing basketball.

Testing iteration #1 - Key findings
  • Players want to know how long the drill will last. A time indicator would be good.
  • Players could remember the sound of the countdown (3,2,1), honk sound when they failed and victory sound when they won.
  • Most testers noticed the color change as an affordance for success.
  • All testers considered this a promising, cool training method which worked better than expected.
Iteration #2

Based on the feedback obtained testing the first iteration we created the second iteration. For this iteration we increasead the fidelity of the virtual players to make them more realistic. We were lucky enough to be able to test this version with the UBC Thunderbirds Basketball Teams.

Core Loop
User Flow

The experience begins once the user says “Play”. He then hears a voiceover explain what the objective of the game is and is given a prompt to go to the starting zone. If the user stands on the starting zone (in front of the middle virtual attacker) that attacker turns green and the player is prompted to use the voice command “Start”. After saying "Start" the user hears and sees a countdown and then the word “Go” appears. The middle attacker passes the ball and the player must run to defend the ball timely. If they make it in time, the attacker keeps passing. If the player can defend the ball for 45 seconds, the drill is successfully completed. If the player fails to get to a trigger zone in time, his opponent shoots and scores, the drill ends.

Testing Iteration #2
Key findings
  • Most players reported considering the instructions clear.
  • What they liked about the drill: Easy to understand, color change to recognize the target, feels real, ball movement has a good speed, varies in long and short pass.
  • What they disliked about the drill:
    • Virtual players not perfect for tester's size, she has to look down to see the ball.
    • Field of view is limited.
    • If you miss the instructions at the beginning, you will be confused.
  • 4 of 6 players consider the HoloHoops would help them become better players, because HoloHoops helps you practice by yourself as if your team were there.
  • Advice for future features: Lighter headset, bigger field of view, more drills, consider also focusing on agility and explosiveness.

4. The experience comes together: Handoff

For delivering detailed specifications of the experience to our artists and programmers, we followed 8ninths’ HoloLens Design Patterns.

In each of these storyboards we define five components:

  • Physical space (blue)
  • User input (green)
  • Holographic form (fucsia)
  • 3D Sound (orange)
  • MR Design Methods (purple)
Sample storyboards: The player says the word “Start” and they see a counter "3, 2, 1". They then hear the word “Go” and they also see it on the UI.

The Result

We designed and developed a succesful proof of concept for the use of the HoloLens as a tool to improve the skills of semi-professional basketball players.