Microsoft’s new HoloLens technology is to receive support from Unity 3D, it was announced last night.
The announcement came during Microsoft’s keynote presentation at the Build Conference in San Francisco. The Unity toolchain will be adapted to work with Hololens’ features such as spatial mapping and audio, gaze, gesture and voice recognition, and the ability to anchor holographic objects to specific spots in the real world. The new tools will be included in both the Pro and Personal editions of Unity, and won’t cost anything extra.
While the new suite of tools for the popular game development engine are still in the early days of development, Unity 3D says that enough progress has been made that Microsoft are holding a series of “Holographic Academy” training sessions over the course of the Build conference, using an early Alpha version of Unity’s Windows 10 HoloLens tools.
Just in case you weren’t aware, HoloLens is an augmented-reality headset which allows users to see interactive holograms in the real world. With no wires to restrict movement, and with the on-board processor analyzing your movements and gestures, the idea is that you’ll be able to interact with and get information about various different things – ordering groceries, perhaps, or checking the weather.Microsoft is hoping that the technology will prove useful for education, entertainment, social networking and even remote healthcare.
Of course, Microsoft is also aiming to utilize HoloLens technology for games – when the headset was first announced last year, the company showed off a working demo of what it would be like to play Minecraft with HoloLens, with buildings and worlds spread out over tables and visible through cracks in walls. It’s easy to think of ways that HoloLens could be used to improve the play experience – game menus and hud elements could be displayed away from the main game, allowing you to switch between them simply by shifting your gaze and selecting items with a tap of your finger. Characters from games could appear in your living room, allowing you to interact with them in real-time.
Imagine having a fully interactive version of Halo‘s Cortana in your living room, or directing troop or teammate movements in real-time via an overhead map on your coffee table. The possibilities for gaming are exciting, to say the least – and as the images will be overlaid onto the real world and the glasses track your movements, you won’t have to worry about holding a controller or bumping into objects.
A couple of new videos have been released by Microsoft showcasing the technology. Take a look – are you excited yet, or do you think it will be another Kinect-sized disaster?