Early signs of a HoloLens ecosystem

Early signs of a HoloLens ecosystem

NASA has already tested HoloLens for training and assisting astronauts, but Microsoft's augmented-reality goggles will need a broad community of developers in order to succeed as a platform.  The launch of the first HoloLens-focused company and Microsoft’s announcement of HoloLens research and development grant suggest the company is serious about incubating such a community.

Object Theory is a software development company launched expressly to help organizations build mixed-reality applications for Microsoft HoloLens when the product officially goes on the market. The company, launched July 7, is founded by Michael Hoffman, a former member of the Microsoft HoloLens Studios team, and technology entrepreneur Raven Zachary.

Object Theory and Microsoft use the term “mixed reality” to include reality, augmented reality and fully virtual reality, and Zachary and Hoffman both believe their company will help to spark a new “ecosystem” around the IT mixed reality requires.

The team plans to help organizations with the entire HoloLens utilization and integration process  from software development and user experience design, to application launch, analytics and strategy.

“Our expertise is applying our understanding of this technology to create real value for organizations, whether that be internally facing or public-facing,” Zachary told GCN. “This technology is so new that organizations do not yet have these skills in-house”

Some of those outlined skills incorporate the technology of wearable holographic computing, like new natural user interfaces, surface reconstruction and object persistence, UV mapping (making two-dimensional image representations of 3D surfaces) and creating Windows 10 APIs.

Gaming and entertainment uses are a given for HoloLens, but Object Theory is focused on enterprise applications.  The founders also have a strong interest in providing public sector opportunities for HoloLens, according to Zachary, who has previously worked in the Los Alamos National Lab. Hoffman, while still at Microsoft, worked on the NASA HoloLens project.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is soliciting proposals for research and development grants to academic institutions for projects capable of utilizing HoloLens gear to its fullest.

According to the RFP, Microsoft is reaching out to these communities in hopes they can find ways to “better understand the role and possible applications for holographic computing in society.”

The company plans to award five groups or universities with $100,000 and two HoloLens development kits each.  Microsoft is looking for proposals in data visualization, medicine, psychology, STEM and design education, communication and collaboration, interactive art, experimental media and new problem solving initiatives.  

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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