Microsoft's HoloLens Developer Kit Available for Pre-Order
If you have $3,000 to spare, you can be one of the first to get your hands on the developer version of Microsoft’s new augmented reality headset. The Microsoft HoloLens is available for pre-order now for developers invited by the company, with the first units expected to start shipping on March 30.
“Starting today, developers will have access to documentation, and to the developer community, that will help them create amazing experiences,” the company wrote in a blog post. Additional development tools that include Visual Studio projects and a HoloLens emulator will be released when HoloLens devices start shipping.
The emulator will allow developers to test holographic apps on their PCs without a physical HoloLens, according to the company. The emulator will also come with a HoloLens development toolset to help developers who haven’t received their devices get started immediately.
Windows 10 and the Holograms
The HoloLens is compatible with the Windows 10 operating system, with the APIs responsible for holographic computing already available in the OS. The company is hoping that the Windows 10 environment will provide a familiar interface for new users. In addition, Microsoft said that the developer edition is completely self-contained, meaning that it can enable holographic computing natively with no markers, external cameras, wires, phones, or PC connections required.
The device consists of multiple environment-understanding sensors and is powered by what Microsoft calls a Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) and an Intel 32-bit architecture. The HPU allows HoloLens to understand a user's gestures and visual focus while mapping the world around the individual in real time.
The lenses, upon which the holographic images will be overlaid, use an optical projection system to generate multi-dimensional full-color holograms with low latency so users can see holographic objects as if they existed in the real world. The device also comes with multiple built-in cameras to allow mixed reality captures, HD pictures and video of the holograms displayed on the lenses, and a Bluetooth 4.1-enabled clicker.
Used by Astronauts
Users will be able to create and shape holograms with gestures, communicate with apps by voice, and navigate using their eyes. The HoloLens will also let users hear holograms from anywhere in a room, even when the holograms are positioned behind the users.
Microsoft seems to be focusing primarily on enterprises applications for the HoloLens, at least at first. The company said it has already made progress with a variety of organizations to develop an ecosystem of apps for the device.
“We have introduced new partners like Volvo Cars, Autodesk Fusion 360 and have continued to make progress in our partnerships with Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, Trimble, and NASA,” the company said in its blog post. In fact, Microsoft said the HoloLens is already being used by NASA astronauts as part of the agency’s Project Sidekick program, a new project using commercial technology to empower astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Image Credit: HoloLens Developer kit image via Microsoft.
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