Once getting the HoloLens running, it’s natural to look for what is already installed and head to the Windows Store to find apps and games. With the release of the HoloLens Development Kit, there are 6 initial apps/games designed specifically for the HoloLens. When you log into the store with a Microsoft Account, there is a Made for HoloLens section at the top to help you quickly find relevant apps and games.
The initial Windows Store list of HoloLens targeted apps and games include
- RoboRaid (formerly Project X-Ray)
- Young Conker
- 3D Viewer Beta
The apps and games already installed include
- Microsoft Edge
- Windows Store
- Settings and Configuration Options
It should be made clear that any existing Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app or game will run on the HoloLens, but it will be in 2D.
The HoloLens is packed with a bunch of hardware. At the core of it is an unreleased Intel Atom chip. Microsoft says it contains a CPU, GPU and HPU (holographic processing unit). Let’s look at the hardware controls that are visible from the outside.
At the center of the first picture above, there is a circular gear on the inside band. The inside band is the main part of the HoloLens that rests on your head. It is also were the majority of the weight is felt, albeit a very lightweight device. Some of the Microsoft HoloLens team members have recommended putting the front end of the inner band at about the hairline to have the most comfortable wear. This gear expands and contracts the inner band to fit around a head.
The red pieces on the bottom of the HoloLens are the spatial speakers. In the close up picture, you can see it’s an elongated piece. This contains a bunch of smaller speakers to help with the spatial perception.
Here is a close up from the bottom of the HoloLens. Worth looking at is the layers of the inside lens.
On the top side, roughly over the ears, there are controls for Brightness on one side and Volume on the other side. They are plus and minus type of buttons.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether someone can wear their classes. The HoloLens definitely supports glasses. In the picture above, on the inside band behind the speakers, you can see an open slot. That is for sliding the outside band in relation to the inside band. This allows for extending the outside band either closer or farther away from a face. The only glass wearer that I’ve talked to that experienced trouble was with heavy bifocals. That person had success after going through the HoloLens configuration without her glasses.
On the back of the outer band, there is a button for the power, along with a 5 light power indicator. The button is a long-press type to avoid accidental power-offs. On the bottom of the HoloLens in the same area is the micro-USB port for charging.
Finally, we look at the clicker. The clicker has a micro-USB port for charging, which is the same as the HoloLens. The strap is elastic and is best to wrap around your middle or ring finger. There is a bluetooth pairing button on the underside of the clicker that is small enough to require a pencil or pen tip sized object to start the pairing. The Clicker can work as a replacement for the common AirTap gesture, which is very nice in development scenarios.
As part of Wave 1 with the HoloLens Development Kits, I thought it might be interesting to see what the shipment contains. It’s worth noting that the shipment requires signature, so the box won’t be sitting on your doorstep unattended.
The packaging and materials for shipment are first rate.
On to opening the main package already! Microsoft provided a great carrying case for the HoloLens. After all, it won’t be easy to get a replacement for some time.
The HoloLens fits snugly into the case making it secure for transport. The center of the case is used for storing the accessories. Besides the main package, there is a smaller package containing the HoloLens Clicker. The clicker is used as a bluetooth paired device to send signals to the HoloLens instead of using your finger for the AirTap gesture.
Looking more closely at the HoloLens accessories, there is a power adapter that is a standard micro-USB to USB cable with wall adapter. There is a cleaning cloth for the lens, an optional head strap and a replacement nose piece. In my previous experiences with the HoloLens, I haven’t found a need for the optional head strap.
Getting to see the actual HoloLens out of the case! The lightweight, wireless, solidly constructed device is an amazing piece of revolutionary technology.
My first exposure to HoloLens was at Microsoft BUILD 2015. I was lucky enough to get hands on and walk through the architecture demo. One of my colleagues was able to do the X-Wing demo, which sounded great, but I can’t find a video of it. During the Build keynote, Microsoft also showcased some medical uses and of course, gaming.
Over the next year, I was fortunate to get hands on a few more times, for example when the HoloLens Road Show came to Chicago. The demo was called Project X-Ray, a game that had robots coming out of the walls and shooting at you. X-Ray was the first time I was surprised at how accurate the spatial sound worked. The game is now called RoboRaid, is available from the Windows Store, and is a great first exposure to the HoloLens. Another great hands on experience came at the Microsoft Campus during the Microsoft MVP Summit. We got to see where the magic happens and mess around with some in-development apps.
At Microsoft BUILD 2016, Microsoft announced multiple user support, meaning that more than one person can view the same holographic scene in a shared experience. This is accomplished using a server over WiFi. Microsoft was gracious enough to provide the source code to all of the HoloLens Academy attendees. Here’s a short video of my HoloLens Academy.
I was picked to be part of Wave 1 of HoloLens development kit shipments and I certainly took advantage of that purchasing 2 of them. I’ll be posting about my experiences with the HoloLens as my journey continues!