Microsoft To Roll Out HoloLens to Developers in Coming Year
Bringing holographic, augmented-reality computing to Windows 10 users will be a "five-year journey," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the BBC during a recent video interview. He added that a developer version of the HoloLens wearable headset that will enable such computing will come out "within the next year."
Unveiled in April at the annual Microsoft Build conference, HoloLens is being touted as an innovative new tool for architects, product designers, educators, gamers and researchers. Among the early users that have been testing the holographic computing system are Trimble Architecture and Case Western Reserve University, which is exploring the technology's applications for teaching anatomy.
Another partner, NASA, was set to begin trying out a HoloLens headset aboard the International Space Station this year. However, those plans suffered a setback when the unmanned SpaceX rocket carrying the device and other supplies for astronauts exploded shortly after launching on June 28.
More Info about SDK 'Soon'
Designed with native support for Microsoft's new Windows 10 operating system, which became available last week, the HoloLens technology will first be available in a developer version, Nadella told the BBC on Friday. He said version one will debut "in the Windows 10 timeframe," which presumably means during the one-year period in which home and small-business users can upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
At some point, after developers have had time to try out the technology and build apps for it, HoloLens will be made available to consumers.
Several hundred demonstration models of the HoloLens device were made available to developers attending the Build conference in San Francisco in the spring. More information will come out soon as to when the SDK will become available, according to the developer section of Microsoft's HoloLens Web page.
Research Grants Coming in October
Last month, Microsoft also announced an academic research grant program for researchers who want to explore the "role and possible applications for holographic computing in society." To be awarded on October 6, each of the grants -- expected to go to five winning proposals -- will include $100,000 and two HoloLens development kits.
Among some of the research areas Microsoft has suggested for the device are mixed reality for visualizing large data sets, interactive journalism, 3D high-value education and training, and support for emergency responders.
Holographic computing can eliminate current constraints in how people control computers using mouse clicks or touchscreens, according to Microsoft. "Using holograms, you can pin your digital content, such as apps, information, and even multi-dimensional videos, in the physical space around you, so you can interact with it in the same ways that you interact with other physical objects," the company noted.
Microsoft has already put out videos showing how HoloLens users could, for example, play the game of Minecraft (which the company acquired last year for $2.5 billion) using holographic blocks in their living rooms. Other companies working on using the technology include Autodesk, Unity Technologies, Dassault Systèmes and Sketchfab.