Microsoft opens applications for $3000 HoloLens development kit

Hot on the heels of HTC and its Vive VR headset, Microsoft is opening up shop with a version of its HoloLens augmented-reality headset. Unlike Oculus' Rift and the Vive, however, Redmond isn't making HoloLens hardware available to just anybody. The company is taking applications for a Development Edition of the HoloLens hardware from developers in the USA or Canada. Prospective users also need to be Windows Insiders, and they'll need to be comfortable providing feedback on the AR headset to Microsoft. Applicants deemed worthy of a kit will then need to fork over $3000 for the hardware. 

Microsoft has also revealed the "holographic experiences" that HoloLens will ship with. Since this is a developer release, HoloLens will ship with HoloStudio, an app that developers can use to build 3D content at real-world scale using the HoloLens headset itself. The headset will also include a special version of Skype that will let HoloLens users collaborate using holographic experiences. Another tool that'll arrive this summer is Actiongram, an experience that's meant to allow "creative coders and content creators" to create "emotionally compelling and humorous videos" using holograms.

We've already seen some of the potential that HoloLens holds for gaming, and Microsoft will offer three games with the Development Edition kit. RoboRaid (formerly Project X-Ray) pits players against a swarm of robotic invaders, and it uses a room's walls and furnishings as part of its levels. The company describes Fragments as "a high-tech crime thriller." This game blends its futuristic crime-solving story with the user's surroundings. Finally, Young Conker is a platformer that doesn't share much of that franchise's history beyond the name and a squirrely main character.

Unlike VR headsets that need to be tethered to a PC, HoloLens is a self-contained device. Microsoft revealed more detail about the underlying hardware today, and it's interesting to see what powers HoloLens' version of augmented reality. The headset's brain is what Microsoft calls a "holographic processing unit," or HPU, that runs 32-bit, "Intel architecture" code. This custom chip drives two "HD 16:9 light engines" that the company says can draw up to 2.3 million total light points with a holographic density of 2500 radiants (light points per radian). To make sense of those measures, the company says that the more light points and radiants there are in a holographic experience, the better it becomes.

Microsoft says the first shipment of HoloLens Development Edition kits will go out March 30.

Comments closed
    • Neutronbeam
    • 4 years ago

    If it partially succeeds would that be a Holo victory for MSFT?

    • Freon
    • 4 years ago

    I think AR is just as exciting as VR. This tech is really cool.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]The headset's brain...the better it becomes.[/quote<] This paragraph...yuck. Good job MS marketing department, good job.

    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    I’m sure there’s merit in developing AR tech further, but just like the last time HoloLens was in the news, I’ll reiterate that the video is completely stupid – full of obvious lies and dumb examples that don’t really inspire any investors.

    • vargis14
    • 4 years ago

    Imm with Krogoth I did not ask for this….BUT!

    I do want a HOLODECK like on Star Trek TNG now that would be the best VR ever:)

    Tell you one thing it would be pretty damned awesome to free climb some rock face or better yet Mount Everest in between pretending I am a navy seal and Halo dropping from a plane a 40,000ft and hitting the ground firing a M16 “Computer freeze..replace M16 with 50 caliber Barret with a 25round banana clip”

    Yes i would want anytime I am shot to feel the pain of being shot just no blood or permanent damage.

    • fellix
    • 4 years ago

    MS still need to fix the narrow FoV to make this thing more practical.

    • Klimax
    • 4 years ago

    USA and Canada only. Great… Wonder if Epson’s AR glasses can be made to use W10…
    (Got nice prototype of system which would fit AR like Hololens nicely, just need kit)

    • Krogoth
    • 4 years ago

    I never asked for this……

      • TwoEars
      • 4 years ago

      …..so you’re not impressed?

    • Erebos
    • 4 years ago

    Microsoft, how about you stop calling them holograms? Cause they’re not.
    Augmented Reality has been around for years.

      • UberGerbil
      • 4 years ago

      Because you can ride your [url=http://artfcity.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hoverboard.gif<]Hoverboard[/url<] right through them, so they must be [url=https://youtu.be/HgFhZZ7emg4<]holograms[/url<], right?

    • meerkt
    • 4 years ago

    “Lights points”, AKA pixels? 🙂

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    I actually find AR to be more interestly than VR, especially when VR is just going to be used for another iteration of video games.

    Of course, $3000 for Google glass on steroids isn’t going to be a market winner, but it might mean there are more interesting products coming in the future.

      • TwoEars
      • 4 years ago

      I would agree. I believe AR has more near-term real-world application, and it will probably be seen as more socially acceptable than full on VR as well. VR is something which I think will be used more in the home by enthusiasts, but AR is better suited for public spaces and work.

      • Namarrgon
      • 4 years ago

      They’re really for very different applications, like the difference between a PC and a phone. Both are computers and both can play games, but one is designed for focused experiences (games, productivity, education etc), and the other is a handy multipurpose aid to have while you’re in the real world.

      I think AR will have the larger long-term mainstream impact (as with phones), but until the tech is ready for the masses then the enthusiasts can still get a lot of use from VR.

        • Zizy
        • 4 years ago

        The issue for VR is that hololens tech can be used to make better VR than any of the VR headsets. Sure, tons of things need fixing, but the potential is there 🙂

          • Namarrgon
          • 4 years ago

          I’m really not sure that it can. The biggest problem with Hololens is also the one thing VR needs most – a huge field of view. Fixing this would require a radical redesign of the optics, much higher resolution display (or you’d get very visible pixels and screen-door effect), much more powerful graphics (to drive all those pixels), much bigger battery (to drive the graphics), heavier headset etc – which is why Microsoft has said publicly that the FoV won’t change much anytime soon. You’d also need a significantly faster refresh rate and low-persistence displays to reduce nausea (which isn’t an issue now on Hololens because the room around you is still clearly visible). There’s a reason why a pretty beefy PC is needed to drive a quality VR experience, and Hololens doesn’t come close.

          The advantages that Hololens does have don’t really help it with VR anyway, like its custom hardware to analyse and mesh the 3D surroundings – vital for stable tracking of overlaid graphics, but quite unnecessary for VR. Being self-contained is nice, but the many phone-based VR viewers are as well, and a wireless headset streaming from a PC is also plausible.

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