Microsoft HoloLens: $3000 devkit seems stupidly expensive

Microsoft Corp. VP Kudo Tsunoda is “super excited.” Bless...

Microsoft HoloLens developer edition

Microsoft HoloLens is ready, almost, at least for developers approved by Redmond. If you’re in Canada or the U.S., then you may plonk down a trifling three big ones for the (ahem) holographic devkit.

Microsoft has put a metaphorical forest behind this AR arrow. And so far, the demos certainly appear impressive.

Of course, this being Microsoft, the marcom is peppered with really bizarre wording. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder why Microsoft insists on calling it a “hologram”.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. [Developing story: Updated 10:45 am and 2:30 pm PT with more comment]

Are you seeing through a glass darkly? Peter Bright shines a light on the $3,000 HoloLens dev kit: now taking pre-orders for the HoloLens Development Edition. ... As previously announced, the hardware will cost $3,000.

[It] appears to be relatively barebones. ... Developing HoloLens software will require a PC that can run Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015. ... [It] will also come with a range of apps, [two] of which we've seen before. ... A third app, HoloTour, strives to provide immersive 3D virtual trips to various landmarks.

The company is well aware of the gaming applications of the tech, and it's providing three games. ... RoboRaid was shown off last year. ... Fragments is an as-yet-unseen "mixed-reality crime drama." ... Young Conker [is] a mixed-reality platform game that uses your environment to construct levels.

When is the release date? Jay Greene offers a colorful metaphor, in Microsoft HoloLens Is Available to Software Developers:

HoloLens is taking the next big step toward putting the augmented reality headgear in consumer hands. [It] will only be available for now in the United States and Canada, and will start shipping on March 30.

[This] is a significant milestone toward bringing HoloLens to consumers. [But] before it can roll out the device...the company needs developers to create applications. ... Microsoft released documentation on Monday. ... And it posted tutorials on its website.

Microsoft has already given some developers access. ... Shortly after its unveiling, it partnered with develop a virtual showroom. And it’s working with [JPL] to let HoloLens users explore the surface of Mars.

Use the sauce. Microsoft’s Kudo Tsunoda introduces the first ever experiences for the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition:

I am super excited about today’s announcement. ... We set out on a mission to deliver the world’s first untethered holographic computer. ... While we have been dreaming and delivering...nothing is more exciting to me than seeing what developers dream up.

Nothing illustrates key development strategies and best practices like being able to see and experience a comprehensive portfolio of...apps. [So] we have provided for developers a free portfolio [which] represent the development knowledge and expertise our teams have acquired over years of working.

I look forward to seeing you on a holographic Skype call soon. ... Feel free to reach out to me.

What’s in the box? Mary Jo Foley knows—Microsoft to start shipping $3,000 HoloLens:

The Developer Edition will [also] come with a Bluetooth clicker; carrying case; charger;..microfiber cloth; nose pads; and overhead strap. [It] runs a variant of Windows 10, and the [APIs] are available as part of the OS.

Here is Microsoft's spec list:..See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)...Automatic pupillary distance calibration...>2.5k radiants...4 environment understanding cameras, 1 depth camera [and] 1 2MP photo / HD video camera...4 microphones...Gaze tracking...Wi-Fi 802.11ac...Bluetooth 4.1 LE...Passively cooled (no fans)...64GB Flash...2GB RAM.

What if you don’t have a spare $3000? John Callaham says You can use the Microsoft HoloLens emulator:

Developers who don't get invited, or who don't want to spend the money, can still make apps...with the HoloLens development tools and its PC emulator. ... Developers make apps with the Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 [and] the Windows 10 SDK. ... Microsoft also recommends that app makers install the Unity game engine.

Update 1: Who wins the award for “craziest news angle”? Jeff Grubb—The guided missile technology that makes HoloLens work:

HoloLens...shares some components that you’d normally find in spacecraft, guided missiles, and drones. [Its] inertial measurement unit [is] a technology that humans developed to emulate a type of navigational intuition that you find in animals.

Positional tracking is one of augmented reality’s and virtual reality’s biggest hurdles. [It] uses a form of navigation tracking called “dead reckoning” or “path integration,” [which] can deduce your current position based on your inertia and acceleration.

The IMU is a central technology in all aircraft and spacecraft. [It] enables a missile to fly from one continent to another.

Update 2: But what about that price? Time for Tim Moynihan—Developers Can Pre-Order Microsoft’s HoloLens Today for $3,000:

Until today, the only thing we could say for sure about [HoloLens] was that it was going to be expensive. Now we can confirm it.

To be sure, HoloLens remains in the development stages. There’s still no word on when you’ll be able one. ... There’s a limit of two HoloLenses per application.

The HoloLens display begins with a pair of transparent waveguides. [which] are clear lenses that allow...your surroundings to blend with digitally created...images. [They] create the illusion of computer-generated objects hovering or resting in the real-world spaces around you. 

Three grand gets you a lot of sensors [which] give developers a chance to play around with eyesight tracking, gesture control, voice control, and spatial audio. ... Microsoft did not provide comment on how this model matches up with the planned consumer HoloLens.

And Finally…

Why does Microsoft insist on calling it a “hologram”?

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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