The day we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. After a year of building excitement, Alex Kipman has announced that invitations to preorder the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition are starting to go out and that devices will start shipping on March 30, 2016.
Note: If you have a great idea but haven’t signed up for a Development Edition yet, it’s still not too late to apply.
New documentation and videos
Along with the announcement comes a wealth of new tools you’ve never seen before to help you learn Windows Holographic.
The Windows Holographic Dev Center will be your starting point for learning about developing for Microsoft HoloLens. It will be updated and expanded as we approach the March 30th ship date.
The Dev Center includes Windows Holographic documentation to guide you through the ins and outs of HoloLens development in Visual Studio as well as in Unity.
A new HoloLens App Development forum has also been created to help answer your questions as you explore the Windows Holographic APIs.
Finally, the HoloLens Team has uploaded 12 video tutorials to YouTube to help you get a deeper understanding of the platform:
- Development Overview
- What is a hologram?
- Gaze Input
- Gesture Input
- Voice Input
- Spatial Sound
- Spatial Mapping
- The Science Within – Making Comfortable Holograms
- The Science Within – Spatial Sound with Holograms
- Course 101E – Ch. 0 – Introduction with HoloLens Emulator
- Course 101E – Ch. 1 – Project Creation
- Course 101E – Ch. 2 – Gaze Input
- Course 101E – Ch. 3 – Gesture Input
- Course 101E – Ch. 4 – Voice Input
- Course 101E – Ch. 5 – Spatial Sound
- Course 101E – Ch. 6 – Spatial Mapping
Your holographic tool chest
One of the coolest announcements to come out today (among many) is that there will definitely be a HoloLens Emulator. This means you’ll be able to start developing for HoloLens even if you don’t have a device at your fingertips.
Any developer can learn to be an expert with the platform, with or without a headset, opening up the platform to hobbyists, garage-based startups, and anyone at all who just happens to be curious about making apps with holograms. The emulator is expected to be available around the same time that devices ship in late March.
You will be able to download the HoloLens tools online as soon as they become available.
Deploying your HoloLens apps
You may be wondering how you can sell your holographic apps once you’ve written them. It turns out that HoloLens is just one more device to which you can deploy Universal Windows Platform apps by registering an account with the Windows Dev Center.
Even if you don’t have a HoloLens device, the Windows Store team is working on a process to let you upload your package to the Windows Store regardless. Again, the goal is to empower everyone who wants to work with Windows Holographic apps to be able to do so.
You can even choose to enhance your existing UWP apps with HoloLens capabilities. If you already have a 2D app, you can add code to it that will allow someone using the app in a HoloLens headset to pin it on a wall or use the new HoloLens gestures to interact with it.
You still have some time before all the tools become available. You can use that time to learn how to design and code 3D apps. The new documentation and videos provide hours of useful information for you to absorb—and more will be added.
If you don’t have it already, go download Visual Studio 2015 so you can start working with the Windows Holographic APIs. And if you haven’t started working with Unity yet, then this is also a great time to start playing and learning the differences between programming in 2D and programming in 3D.
This is the start of a brand new world of coding for developers. Every single app you make for Windows Holographic will probably include something no one else has ever seen before. Programming holograms, after all, is new to everyone. And someday, you’ll be able to look back and tell people that you were there at the very beginning, building some of the very first mixed reality apps.