June 25, 2017

A Year of HoloLens

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Today is December 21, 2015, one month short of the anniversary of HoloLens’ first revealing. I don’t want to wait for another month to write an anniversary article. As we are approaching the end of 2015 and the start of the new year. I would like to look back at the short and long history of HoloLens. As I set my mind to this task, I have realized, this very site (windowscomment.com) is the only dedicated blog site for HoloLens. I have wrote far more articles about HoloLens than any other website on the Internet. I am proud.

A Bit of History

To start, lets watch the first official Hololens video from Microsoft, posted January 21, 2015.

The HoloLens journey started long before January 2015.

In January 21, the WIRED magazine published an iconic online article titled Project HoloLens: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Holographic Goggles. Most people don’t realize that even the article was posted on Jan 2015, but the article was talking about the their experience with HoloLens back in October 2014. Strange thing is, January 21st was the day HoloLens was revealed to the published, everyone in the media were allowed to write/publish about HoloLens, which essentially made WIRED “Exclusive Hand-On” meaningless. And further, most people don’t realize the HoloLens they saw in Oct. is actually identical to what we see in Dec. 2015. What do those mean? Let me explain.

Clearly, the initial plan was to reveal the HoloLens of today, not the very raw, big Field of View prototype of Jan 21. The article was supposed to be published in Oct 2014. The change of mind is obviously related to FOV issue that everyone have been talking about now. In any case the hardware haven’t updated since Oct. 2014. By the way, WIRED magazine pushed another full length article about HoloLens in its Feb issue (printed version), same article later posted online.

Of course, there had to be a lot more years leading to Oct. 2014. Many people believe the project started 7 years ago. I have seen another Microsoft unofficial blog says 10 years ago.

The earliest leak of the project was March 2011, in Craig Mundie’s speech in Australia. You can find this article online, but I will just post some quote here:

instead of seeing a screen it can beam individual rays of light into your eyes right on your retina … [so] you can look at your phone and see HDTV

Craig Mundie didn’t mention “Project HoloLens”, but it’s easy to connect the two. HoloLens has two critical parts: the spatial mapping and the light engine. I would safely guess that there were two threads that lead to Project HoloLens: the light part is what Mundie talked about, and spatial mapping part is what lead to Kinect. Now they are on Project HoloLens.

Back to January 21, Microsoft was holding a Windows 10 event that day. The big chunk of the event was about Windows Azure cloud platform update. ScottGu was on stage unbearably long. Then it was Windows 10 consumer features: Continuum, Windows Hello. Then Windows 10 developer features: Windows Universal Platform. At the end, Alex kipman went on. No one had heard him outside of Microsoft. He showed the above video, and announced something called HoloLens.

The video was watched 10 millions times during the first two days. The same day after Windows 10 event, the media was demoed the raw HoloLens prototype, which was tethered, with a big enough FOV. The demo includes a collaboration with NASA called Project OnSight. The tech world was shocked to say the least.

Then it come the BUILD conference on April 29. For the first time, the media were shown the close to final product, the same thing shown today. The press was shocked again, but in a negative way. The FOV had because so small that is not even comparable to what was shown in January. Everyone was disappointed. It was unbelievable how this thing was handled all along.

As I said at the beginning, Microsoft knew about this long before January. Why do they show the tethered prototype that was so much different? That’s a question I still don’t have an answer.

After BUILD, HoloLens have been shown during a few other occasions: E3 2015 on June 16 in Vegas, multi-city road show in July. The same hardware, but updated applications.

Recently, Microsoft have announced HoloLens Developer Edition (which is same one available since Oct. 2014) will ship to developers early 2016, for $3K.

Interesting thing during this is the dates: promised and/or missed dates. The above WIRED article said the product will be in developers’ hand during spring of 2015, that didn’t happen. Microsoft said NASA will be using HoloLens in July, 2015 with its OnSight project, that didn’t happen. Instead of OnSite, which requires a large FOV, they started another project called SideKick, which doesn’t require a big FOV. Microsoft had said during the unveil of SideKick, the OnSight project is still on. We haven’t heard anything about it since then.

Apparently, the original plan was to release the product, which is the exactly like what it is today, in July, as I wrote in many articles. The change of plan is due to overwhelmingly negative response.

What Went Wrong?

Microsoft knew the issue long long before Jan 21st. A very polished product was done three month before that. The product looked every bit like a final product. It indeed looks like a product from a product line. I am tired of explaining, but let go into a little detail to make it more obvious so the media nonsense can stop.

Look the HoloLens from my title picture above, and tell what you see. That’s not something you see anywhere on earth. I bet the majority of parts are customized, you can’t find them on the market. And you can’t make a custom order of 500 units for all of those 100s piece of customized parts hardware. It doesn’t make sense for prototype to be made like that. If you look carefully, Windows logo is on too.

The January demoed and the one worn by the cameras shows the technology with a large FOV exists. It is just has to be tethered. You have seen the long cable dragged with the camera. Microsoft have insisted of mobile, portable, untethered, which is great. But what is wrong if you give people a tethered one with a large FOV, which seems to be a make or break feature? I don’t see anything wrong if I am siting at a desktop, with a heavy, tethered HoloLens attached to my PC, exploring Mars surface beside me.

The short answer to the question is: It is a strategy problem, not a technical problem. They could release a tethered version and mobile version at the same time. All the VRs are tethered. Microsoft’s insistence of untethered, mobile is the problem.

The Specs

Regarding to HoloLens specs, this is what we know so far:

>> Weighs about 400 grams, or about the same as a high-end bike helmet.
>> Contains two Kinect cameras(120×120 degree FOV depth sensor), a Cherry Trail CPU, a GPU, a HPU, a light engine, lens and vent.
>> A stand alone PC that runs on Windows 10.
>> Has only three buttons: one for sound volume, one for adjust contract, one for power.

How Big is the FOV anyway?

The most accurate measurement is from doc-ok.org. It is said to be 30 degree horizontal, 18 degree vertical. Why 30×18? Because 30 degree is the definition of “Near Peripheral Vision”, which is what makes sense in your vision, and 18 degree is the “Pure Central Vision”, which is how much you can focus on. However,things beyond 30 degree are still important because that gives you cues on what exist.

I have measured 47″ TV of mine, a 20″ computer monitor o mine, and a movie theater, sitting at normal distance respectively. Here are their FOVs in comparison to Hololens:

47″ TV: 19 x 11 degree
HoloLens: 30 X 18 degree
20″ Monitor: 40 X 23 degree
Movie Threater: 65 X 40 degree

So, the experience is noticeably smaller than a 20″ computer monitor sitting on the desk, but considerable better than 50″ HDTV.

Here is the bonus question: Can HoloLens replace you TV? Well, regarding size, it beats your 50″ HDTV comfortably.

HoloLens as a Computer

I have written tons of articles about HoloLens as a computer. Most of them are speculations at the time, today I can confirm, my accuracy was close to 100%.

HoloLens is a PC running Windows 10. It is every bit a computer, without need for a monitor. It runs all Windows 10 applications, including Edge, NetFlex. You can use it with any wireless or Bluetooth Keyboard, mouse. It doesn’t support touch, but uses air type instead. You can use voice command. You can stream games from an Xbox/PC to it.

HoloLens as a Display

HoloLens is a Computer with out a display, because it is a display itself, It is the most revolutionary display. The thing is, it doesn’t just act as a display for itself. It can also work as a display for other devices: Xbox, a PC, or whatever that needs a display.

Why the Hell Do I Need a Tablet?

The size of the display has been the main factor that categorize a mobile device. With HoloLens, the display is gone. Size no longer matters, because it is virtual. Of course, FOV is still a constraint, but if FOV is big enough, you can have a display range from 1″ to 100″ as you wish, you do that without make the device bigger or heavier. And you get 3D. Why the hell do I need a tablet, or a phone? You tell me.

The predictions

During the year, I have make many predictions about Hololens. Most of them are right on. One exception is the release date. I have predicted July 2015. That’s far off. Without going too wild, here is my predictions for 2016.

1. A commercial release will be sometime toward end of the year. Lets be real, the hardware is ready long long times ago, when developers get apps ready, they don’t want to hold it for years. One main factor that decides the release date is how many business applications will be available. I mean the really ones, not the toy apps that can be done on two weekends. That will likely happen end of the year 2016 or early 2017, because serious business applications take long to build.

2. A tethered HoloLens will be Released along with the current one, mainly for gaming.

3. Current HoloLens hardware will be update to a larger FOV by end of 2016.

That’s all I can say for now.

 

 

Recommended Readings: Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#

unityc

Develop for HoloLens is develop UWP apps for Windows 10, right? Because all UWP apps run on HoloLens. Theoretically true, in reality false.

If develop for HoloLens is all about develop for UWP, then the notion of developing for HoloLens wouldn’t exist. In reality, develop for HoloLens is about taking advantage of HoloLens in mixed reality. One important element is 3D. Your choices are 1. Code directly on DirectX, which is generally a hard thing to do. 2. Use a third party 3D engine. If you choose number 2, then Unity is your obvious choice.

Unity is a 3D/2D game engine, but its use is not limited to game. One thing keep in mind though, game and app are totally different thing. A game runs on frames, visuals are upgrade once per frame, and it is running on a game loop. If you are developing a normal application, you probably don’t want that to happen. One thing I don’t have answer though: can Unity help with a non-game application? In the old day of XNA, there is a mixed mode: Silverlight + XNA, they interact with each other. I will have to leave the readers to figure this out.

If you are writing a general app, and use 3D rendering lights, code in DirectX would be a better choice, but again, you would have to go C++, instead of C#, because currently there is good interface between .NET and DirectX 12. If you are writing games, of mostly game like application, Unity would be your choice. Here are a few post from Adam Tuliper, senior technical evangelist with Microsoft, that will get you started with Unity in C#.

Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 2
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 3
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 4
Cross-Platform Game Development with Visual Studio Tools for Unity

 

 

What Do Microsoft Need to Succeed in Consumer Market?

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I have been writing about Windows Phone and other Windows devices for about 5 years, spent most of off-business time writing about HoloLens since anyone outside of Microsoft heard about it. I can proudly say, no one on this planet had written more about HoloLens than I.

During this time, I have notice one thing that most media don’t want to talk about: anti-Microsoft asshole effect in media and it audiences. Take one of my friends as example, one day we were discussing something technical. He went over to my computer, tried hard to find Chrome on my machine, but I didn’t install that. He has to settle for IE11 that I have, and type in google.com to search something. I want to say: fuck you! but he is my friend. You see, I have IE already open, Bing already open there for him to type in anything he wanted to search for. But he has to find that ancient, 1990 like user interface and search for something he think he couldn’t find from Bing. To be clear, this guy is not stupid, he wouldn’t be my friend if he is. It was the media from the Internet or whatever, educated him to believe that stupid, ugly look search engine is better.

He has a phone that runs Android. Why you buy a plastic phone with an ugly user interface? He said that’s what everyone do. He said same thing to a icrap for his son to play games.

Microsoft doesn’t need a better product. Surface Pro 3/4 are already the best computer and tablet on earth by a margin. Surface 3 is the best tablet that not only play game but a real computer. Surface Book is the best laptop that icrap can’t hold a candle for. Lumia phones are best smartphones ever made by human beings.

They need to turn those assholes into human beings. It’s start happening in the media. David Pogue had been one of those anti-Microsoft assholes, beside Walt Mossberg, he had stop writing Microsoft-bashing article a couple years ago. So, did many others.

My friend may not stop acting as an unintentional asshole for a while, but as long as the media stop doing so, he will eventually.

I want to tell Microsoft here, it is not technology, it is not marketing. Spend some time on the media, that’s all it takes.

 

 

Recommended Readings: Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#

unityc

Develop for HoloLens is develop UWP apps for Windows 10, right? Because all UWP apps run on HoloLens. Theoretically true, in reality false.

If develop for HoloLens is all about develop for UWP, then the notion of developing for HoloLens wouldn’t exist. In reality, develop for HoloLens is about taking advantage of HoloLens in mixed reality. One important element is 3D. Your choices are 1. Code directly on DirectX, which is generally a hard thing to do. 2. Use a third party 3D engine. If you choose number 2, then Unity is your obvious choice.

Unity is a 3D/2D game engine, but its use is not limited to game. One thing keep in mind though, game and app are totally different thing. A game runs on frames, visuals are upgrade once per frame, and it is running on a game loop. If you are developing a normal application, you probably don’t want that to happen. One thing I don’t have answer though: can Unity help with a non-game application? In the old day of XNA, there is a mixed mode: Silverlight + XNA, they interact with each other. I will have to leave the readers to figure this out.

If you are writing a general app, and use 3D rendering lights, code in DirectX would be a better choice, but again, you would have to go C++, instead of C#, because currently there is good interface between .NET and DirectX 12. If you are writing games, of mostly game like application, Unity would be your choice. Here are a few post from Adam Tuliper, senior technical evangelist with Microsoft, that will get you started with Unity in C#.

Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 2
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 3
Developing Your First Game with Unity and C#, Part 4
Cross-Platform Game Development with Visual Studio Tools for Unity

 

 

Recommended Readings: Hear What Astronauts Say about HoloLens

astro

This is first time we hear what the astronauts say of the HoloLens. Check out this article from Popular Science.

 

 

New Clips Show HoloLens Is Real Deal

NetFlix

Microsoft is letting its own HoloLens team members post video clips from their work with HoloLens. We have seen three of them so far. They are: watching Netflix on HoloLens, Watching video on HoloLens and Stream game from Xbox to HoloLens. That shows HoloLens is the real deal, even with small FOV.

Now watch the videos first:

Watching Netflix on HoloLens:

Watching video on HoloLens:

Stream game from Xbox to HoloLens:

 

First, it appears to me, those videos are shot directly from HoloLens itself. I have proof for that, but I will write about it later. For now trust what I said.

Second, how small is the FOV? Precisely a 50″ TV from 10 feet, that’s the way you watch TV. If you want to watch something closely, like something in front your eyes, sorry, only small objects are fully visible. But from 10 feet, there is plenty of room for many things. I believe those above videos are shot WITHIN HoloLens Field of view.

Remember what I said about Mixed Reality Capture function that is part of Windows 10? That’s probably how the videos are made.

Streaming game from Xbox to HoloLens is a big deal. I had already wondered if there is lag. From the video we don’t enough proof about that, but that’s already too good.

Notice, some of scenes are in very good lighting, like the one close to the window. That answers a lot questions.

What’s next? I want to see reality mode games on HoloLens.

But for now, all the UWP apps runs on HoloLens. Isn’t it good enough?

 

 

Microsoft Future Vision – HoloLens, Cortana Based Sci-Fi Collections

 

msvision

 

Microsoft Research had invited Science-Fiction authors to their labs, showed off some futuristic projects they have been working on, and left rest to the writers. The results are a collections of Sci-Fi creatives. They are based the Microsoft technologies, like HoloLens, Cortana, etc. The collection covers computer vision, artificial intelligence, real-time speech translation, machine learning and quantum computing.

It took Microsoft Research 7 years to get HoloLens technology to today’s state. I am sure there are other projects that are in different stages. It would be great to see what is possible through those sci-fi authors’ imagination.

Those writings will be available tomorrow: Nov. 17th, 2015 in different formats: web, or eReaders.

If you are a fun of HoloLens, you shouldn’t miss this one. You can get them for free sometime tomorrow from Microsoft Future Vision.

Update: They are free, but I can’t find a web version.

HoloLens Academic Grants Winners Accounced!

hololens1

 

Microsoft had announced HoloLens projects grants for academics. Now, they have revealed the winners for the grants. Each gets $100k on each of their projects. Will they get continued fund after the grant runs out, I don’t know.

Here is the announcement from Alex Kipman.

Sadly, the list is very short, only 5 institutes:

  • Golan Levin, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO, Carnegie Mellon University: Open-Source Investigations in Mixed Reality
  • Emily Cooper, Wojciech Jarosz and Xing-Dong Yang, Dartmouth College: Augmenting Reality for the Visually Impaired with Microsoft HoloLens
  • Joseph Gabbard and Doug Bowman, Virginia Tech: Collaborative Analysis of Large-scale Mixed Reality Data
  • Andy Mingo, Tawny Schlieski, Nikki Dunsire, Shelley Midthun, J Bills, Clackamas Community College & Intel, HoloLens Curriculum for Trade-based Education
  • Allen Yang, Professor Claire Tomlin, and Shankar Sastry, University of California, Berkeley: Immersive Semi-Autonomous Aerial Command System (ISAACS)

$500K is like nothing in Microsoft’s pockets, they should have done more. Microsoft have said they have received 500 proposals since July.

 

My Pursuit of Tethered HoloLens Continues

nasa2

 

A few days ago, I wrote a post titled: Is There a Tethered HoloLens? I asked Alex Kipman to comment. He did. See it here.

alex

 

He wouldn’t answer my question: Is there a tethered HoloLens? But he did share something that we didn’t know. The picture at the top of this post is a frame capture I did from a NASA video showing astronauts testing to send HoloLens to the space. Obviously there is a wire comes from the HoloLens, goes down to a strap worn by the astronaut. I wondered if that had anything to do with FOV. Alex said it is actually a high capacity hard drive to store data captured from HoloLens, whatever they do with that.

Important thing is, he didn’t say no to tethered HoloLens. I will take it as a possibility. As much as I know about this technology, there is no reason to say no. It makes business sense and technically feasible.

 

 

Asus to Make HoloLens? You Must Be Kidding!

hololens1

 

The original title was: “HoloLens Is just One of Windows Holographic Devices”, I changed it for dramatic.

This is just a pointer to an article from CNET. Interesting development around HoloLens this morning: from CNET.

It’s hardly anything new actually. To Microsoft, Windows Holographic is the real deal. HoloLens is just another Surface like device. Difference is: this one is a new category, not a new device.

Interesting thing is how it can be done by Asus. I am not a fun of those Asian companies, including Lenovo. They can do anything existing on earth, with a bad quality. Even with that in mind, there is no chance, a company called Asus can do HoloLens. Maybe Microsoft will license their technology to Asus?

If does happen, Asus won’t be the only one. Keep your eyes open.

 

 

Beyond Technology: After Many Years of Tweeting, I still Don’t Get It

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From time to time, I have something to say, but the contents don’t fit into the theme of the this blog. I mean something related to technology, but not directly technology itself. So, I started this “Beyond Technology” series. Honesty I have more to say outside of technology than inside of it, but I will restrict myself to topics that are relevant. Here it goes.

I have been tweeting for about 4~5 years, not too far behind I assume. Main reason I tweet is I am writing on the blog site, I want to notified interested readers that I have something new to say. Beyond that, I really don’t have a reason to tweet. Honestly speaking, it is an obligation, not a pleasure. I don’t even like the word “tweet, twitter” or whatever. That is not the same cases in bloggers community. Just this morning, I saw the following items from my very respected bloggers:

If anyone cares about Mark Guim’s good night sleep, that’s got be his wife, no one else. Well, that’s a good case, but how hard it rains in Southern California is supposed to be a weatherman from their location station’s duty. The thing is, my friend, everybody is doing this, and all the time. They seem to take pleasure doing that.

I don’t know, but is that true that the more you tweet the more likes you can get, therefore the more popular you can be? Maybe I am right, I really can’t find a second reason. But for all intent, I am not going to do that.

Is There a Tethered HoloLens?

 
 
nasa2

 

This post was in draft for some time. The question has been lingering in my mind for a long time. I have a lot of reason to raise this question.

Two day ago, I wrote something like “HoloLens Is just One Step away from Reality.” The problem boiled down to this: how to miniaturize an already existing technology into a smaller pack, and make it wearable on the head. This is easier to say, but in reality it can take years for that to come to fruition.

I want to further emphasis the fact this technology already exists. Two things we know as a fact. In January 21, 2015, a selected group people from the press were shown the first prototype HoloLens, I am talking about a large FOV. In almost all HoloLens on stage demos, a camera wearing a special HoloLens was shown taking live videos, for that, I am talking about an amazing FOV.

While waiting for portable/wearable HoloLens with an amazing FOV, why not go another path: Sacrifice portability for a large FOV. I am getting the hint from the above picture. Obviously there is a cable connecting to some device on a strap. Could this be something related to FOV. Maybe, maybe not, I truly wish it is.

If you can give me a large FOV, I am more than happy to wear the strap. I believe many would agree.

 

 

 

 

Develop for Hololens? C# and Unity Is All You Need

hl4

 

OK, I said C++ and DirectX, but for game development, C# and Unity might be a better choice.

I have posted Why Is There No HoloLens SDK? two days ago. For developers who are interested in developing for HoloLens, there are many, the answer is still not clear. So, what should I do, go write any UWP application, it will working on HoloLens? Of course not.

You write a universal app, it will run on HoloLens, there is no problem with that, but that’s not what HoloLens’ main attraction. We develop apps for HoloLens, we mean to develop apps that is tailed for HoloLens. We want it to appear 3D, we want it to run in “Reality Mode”.

Developing 3D apps or games is not new to HoloLens. You can go crazy with DirectX 12 and C++. When it runs on a PC or phone, it shows 3D on a 2D monitor, when runs on a HoloLens, it shows 3D mixed reality holograms. However, for two important reasons you don’t want to deal with DirectX directly: 1. Programming DirectX is not an easy task. 2. Lack of ready made libraries, so you have to do many things from scratch. It’s like programing directly on Win32 APIs instead of MFC. MFC has been a massive success because it makes a lot of things easier. Unfortunately, Microsoft decide not to do a MFC equivalent for DirectX. Also .NET doesn’t work directly with DirectX. There are third party packages bridging .NET and DirectX but I am not sure if they are up to task yet. Reading Microsoft’s message, it appears Unity will be a major choice for DirectX programming. That’s why Unity was featured during HoloLens developer demo.

You only need to two things to be a HoloLens developer: C# and Unity. C# is pretty easy, with great intellisense in Visual Studio. Unity is not the only choice, but for the moment it is the only one you can count on.

Make sure to register for the C# and Unity online course from Microsoft Virtual Academy from the following link (it’s tomorrow):

Develop for Hololens? Register for Online Course: “Building Windows 10 Games with Unity 5″

Watch Alex Kipman @ Falcon 9 Rocket Pre-Launch Briefing

alex

NASA posted a video of Falcon 9 rocket pre-launch science and technology briefing yesterday. As part of the briefing, Alex Kipman, along with Jeff Norris of NASA JBL, presented and answered questions about HoloLens and project SideKick. Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch tomorrow 10:21 am ET. Here is the footage of the event (starting at 42:10).

 

 

 

 

HoloLens Goes to the Space: NASA TV Live Coverage Sunday

spaceX

 

This Sunday, June 28, 2015, @ 10:21 am ET SpaceX/Dragon launches to the International Space Station on its seventh commercial resupply mission. NASA TV will cover this event live. Well, the relevance is a pair of HoloLens will be on board as part of NASA and Microsoft joint project called SideKick. The TV coverage actually starts from 9 am ET (all channels).  There is a chance they will talk about HoloLens. In any case, it’s a great event to watch. To know that HoloLens is part of it, makes it more exciting.

You can follow the above link to watch on NASA TV website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Develop for Hololens? Register for Online Course: “Building Windows 10 Games with Unity 5″

 

CIItuPiWIAAUnvz

 

Update: Sorry guys, I made a mistake: Starting time is 12am EDT.
Important for HoloLens developers, or who are interested, Microsoft Virtual Academy has an exciting online course, called “Building Windows 10 Games with Unity 5“. It is important because, my understanding, if you want to develop HoloLens games (apps too), that’s the way to go. Of course, the target audience is any Windows 10 game developers, but it’s particularly important for HoloLens.

(Update: the following line should be PDT, EDT instead of PST, EST.)

It’s June 30, 2015 9am‒5pm PST, 11am-8pm EST (that’s next Tuesday), not good for those of us in eastern time zone, but I will post the recording afterwards (usually takes a week or two).

You need register to get in. Please go here to register now.

I just copy the course outline, not that I know what it means.

Course Outline:

  • Overview and Prototyping the Game
  • Utilizing Unity 5 Features
  • Coding and AI
  • Everything I Wish They Told Me About Cameras
  • Designing a Great UI
  • Building for Windows 10

You don’t need to have prior Unity experience or knowledge, but required C# background. However, I think you need to understand how game programming works at least.

This paragraph give you a better idea:

Take a quick tour of the architecture, see how to get the controls up and running, and explore audio mixing, along with lighting and illumination features. Learn how to create a great-looking 3D game with powerful features: write a game design document, prototype it out in Unity, and write the C# code (including AI). Plus, discover camera modes and effects, as you learn to build for the Windows 10 UWP. Don’t miss this fun-filled 3D day!

 

With a Small FOV, HoloLens Is still Workable

hl4

 

To this point, we all know the HoloLens’ FOV is small. We are frustrated to realize that. We couldn’t believe that was true for many days. We have searched all possible sources for a remote chance that is untrue. Finally we were faced with the cold fact, and we sat down and say: WTF!

Indeed. I had moments of the same thing as many others, but after the WTF, I realized there is still plenty blue sky in the HoloLens world. No, I am not in the mindset of settling for the second best. I really think with a small FOV, it still works.

This requires us to switch to a general user’s perspective, instead of ours. By “ours”, I mean those of us, who are geeks, technology enthusiasts, who knows how HoloLens was supposed to be and how it turns out to be. For the majority of the public, they have no idea what HoloLens is. Take myself as an example, I am a geek by nature, and acting as geek for tens of years. I knew there was something going on with VR and AR. I heard about the terms, and media mentioning. But before I got to HoloLens, I didn’t know much about it. If you go to the street, ask a regular person what HoloLens is, and what it does, you mostly get blank stares in response. Naturally, if you bring a product like HoloLens to those people, they would react much differently than we do. The fact is they are the majority by a long shot.

For games that requires a large scene, or need to see multiple targets at the same time, a small FOV won’t work at all. But many HoloLens application don’t really need that, or to say it precisely, there is a good enough compromise. For example the redesigned Minecraft certainly has a small FOV in mind. It will be an easy sell for anyone who have never known HoloLens before. Another application would be Skype. Kudo Tsunoda already said Skype already added 3D annotation to Skype calling. That’s a big deal for any regular person practicing remote repair, tutoring, and any kind of tele-presence. A clever thing we have seen doing is using a pointer or sign to cue user for objects that are not in the view but should be.

Microsoft are actively engaging in partnerships with businesses. If businesses like IKEA adopts HoloLens for all its stores, it is good reason for people getting one.

Sometimes, one good application can make a device necessary. If during this holiday season, Microsoft put HoloLens in every Walmart store, let them try out Minecraft in action, I am pretty confident some people will buy it. Especially with Microsoft promising there will be more games and applications to follow.

The biggest problem with HoloLens in term of marketing, at its current state of FOV, is how to give people enough reason to spend $800 for something that is not essential to their lives. I wouldn’t have that concern should the FOV were in the January level. It’s tough, but it’s not impossible.

Looks like Microsoft is going ahead with small FOV for initial release. Regardless, I think plans are subject to change as we have experienced before. Reason I am saying that is: Microsoft hasn’t commit to concrete release date, that leaves a lot room for change. Also, who knows much can change between now and end of years?

Somehow I feel there will be more deals and partnerships to follow, which will change the appeal of HoloLens to the regular people. Stay tuned.

 

 

HoloLens On-stage Demo: Something about Those Cameras

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Microsoft’s HoloLens on-stage demos have drawn a lot of attention, and criticism. Everything behind all these is the cameras. I thought it might be fun to bring those cameras to focus, See what we found out.

Those are not just every cameras, I am referring to those cameras, that are “HoloLensed” for HoloLens on-stage demo only. It has happened in three different occasions: Windows 10 event on Jan 21, Build 2015 on April 29, and E3 press event on June 15. Now, if they appeared the same, I wouldn’t even write this post. They didn’t. Below I have embedded videos from the above three events in timely order. I also put a close up picture of the camera below each video, so you can have a close look of them.

First observation is: They look very different from one another. The first one looks very much a like a pro grade live camera, with minimum customization. Visibly and clearly there are a pair of HoloLens lenses on the camera. But overall, it looked contained, not much flying wires.

The second one though, looks like a lot of work was put on the camera. It appeared there are a look of hacks going on. You can hardly recognized the appearance of the camera any more.

The third one is a wildly hacked equipment. There are not only a lot of flying wires, but it doesn’t look anything close to a camera. Amazingly, it was not on shoulders. The camera person was simply holding it on hands, but it was balanced, and moving smoothly without being shaky. I was amazed to be honestly. Hack, how does that work? That’s a small miracle for itself, though that’s not my point.

Second observation is: On each one of the cameras, there are a pair of glasses on. They are certainly NOT the same ones on HoloLens semi-final products. And even more, they are not on the front of the main camera lens.

I honestly don’t know what I could make out of those observations. Why do they bother doing that at all? Could that changes reflect the product changes?

My main point is this: Please don’t use that pair of glasses at all if you can’t put that pair of glasses on HoloLens. If you can’t, I am dying for an answer to: Why? But, hack, I want that pair of glasses, so badly.

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HoloLens FOV: Why Some Are Bigger, Others Are Smaller?

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Here we are again.

You know what I mean by that, but I promise every time I bring up the topic of FOV with HoloLens, I have new information in hand. You can check the link at bottom of this post to verify that. This time no exceptions.

Check out this video first.

Can you see the a problem with FOV in the video? No. Many would agree that if the real device can be like this, there is no worry about FOV.

Now it’s my discoveries: 1. FOV in the above video is pretty good. 2. FOV in January prototype try out is good too. 3. FOV in the semi-final prototype is very small. Why is that? I don’t know. Lets ask a better question: What the hell is the difference between the three? I don’t know either, but the last question is something I can work on. Lets get on to it.

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Case 1: The above video. The video was created live by a special HoloLens worn by a camera, which means if you are wearing a HoloLens like that, you can see the whole room full of holograms. The FOV is very good indeed. The above two picture was screen shots from the latest Minecraft demo, which uses the same technique as in the above video for capturing live mixed reality video.  Notice in the above two pictures: “A” looks a lot like the lenses on HoloLens, “B” looks like a PC.

Case 2: January 21 live try out by a group of reporters. That was lab level HoloLens that doesn’t look HoloLens at all. There were a lot of tangling wires and it was driven by a laptop. That FOV may not be as great as Case 1, but sufficiently good.

Case 3: The close to final HoloLens shown at Build Conference and E3. The FOV is very small and insufficient.

We have two things to work on: the CPU/GPU and the light engine/light projection. It’s either or both of them. In any case, it’s likely not able to get the light to human eyes fast enough, therefore, dizzy effect for the Case 3, so they have to limit the FOV to get the speed.

But, what exactly is it? I have to leave it to Microsoft. I need answers too.

The bright side is: a large FOV is possible if you don’t worry about carrying something big. I believe there are many use cases where you don’t mind carry something big. Remember a tethered or even wired solution are desirable too (use your imagination). Again, we need some confirmation.

 

HoloLens: Field of View (FOV) Collections

Also, there is a collection of FOV related links from HoloLensFov.

 

 

 

Kudo Tsunoda Had Vaguely Communicated HoloLens Release Time Frame

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Field Of Vision: A Short Story

 

Microsoft first publicly acknowledged HoloLens release date was in January, only said it will be in Windows 10 time frame. But if you really put the NASA story together, you get HoloLens was targeting July release. It was very much like it based on how the product looks and functions. Except for some calibration has to be done manually. Then it came the public reaction about FOV. The release date has obviously pushed back. Now they no longer mention NASA and July anymore. That’s a clear sign that it was pushed to a later date. How late? That’s the question.

Maximum PC has interviewed Kudo Tsunoda at E3, check the embedded video below. Asked when it comes out, He said: “It’s not like a year in the future.” He is also not confirming this year. While it is still vague enough, but that’s the most concrete answer about HoloLens release date so far. Based on people who tried out the device, they are likely working on FOV for the moment. That’s a big variable. On one hand, I hope they can release it before end of year, on the other hand, I wouldn’t mind wait a little longer to get FOV issue solved before getting into the market.

Also in the interview, almost all the important questions were asked, like pricing, specs, chipset. He dodged all the questions, except when asked about FOV, he said the hardware is not finalized yet.

By the way, I will have another post about FOV this Saturday morning. Make sure to tune in.