Hands on with Microsoft HoloLens

At the recent Microsoft Ignite conference, I got the opportunity to try the Microsoft HoloLens. CvpEnq4VUAA-4sc

All I'd seen up to that point were videos like these:


Sure, marketing videos will always look better than the real thing. I'd been bitten once before - by Google Glass. Google Glass had great marketing but really just sucked once on your face.

But once I put on the HoloLens it was completely different. It was totally legit.

First, a bit of knowledge. Back at university, during my honours year, I did a great course on Augmented Reality. It was taken by well respected researcher Dr Mark Billinghurst. He taught us the concepts required to understand AR. To sum it up, for an AR system, a computer must recognize points of interest in an image (corners, edges, etc) and then place the object, scale it, and orientate it correctly. This is quite computationally complex, and expensive. Oh, and it must be done every frame, roughly 25 times a second.

With that in mind, I expected HoloLens to suck at that, but to my sheer and utter delight, it freaking nailed it.  We later learned that the HoloLens has a dedicated processing chip for the above process, and that's what allows it to be so fast.

That being said I did have some gripes. Firstly, the field of view (eg how much of your field of view that could possibly contain holograms was small. I suspect this is just a V1 thing, and the ability to expand that is coming. However, this might be easier said than done, due to the above process. But for now, for example, you'll not see a floating space ship in your peripheral vision.

Secondly the unit was a bit heavy. I'd say after an hour of playing/watching/using the HoloLens your neck might be a bit sore. Once again, V1, once again, probably fixable.

The gestures worked well, but took a couple of gos to get used to them. Watching the Microsoft employees (who had been using it for a while) use it, they were able to have their hand movements recognised first time. Right now it supports just a few, but I'd really like to see some gesture inference going on, and then it could get really cool.

Overall, a great first start. I'm looking forward to see where they take it next.

Developers: If you're keen to start writing apps for this (hey, it's just Windows 10 Apps or Unity), then go here. Developers can buy up to five devices with shipping to the US, UK, Canada, France, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand (woo!).


Microsoft Ignite – First Impressions

Hi All, This week I'm in Auckland, New Zealand speaking at, and attending Microsoft Ignite.

I thought I'd write a quick post to talk about my first time in this historic MS event. This is the 21st(!!!) event of it's kind in NZ (formerly TechEd) and my gosh it's a polished, slick event now.

I walked into a massive room surrounded by screens and orange.









The keynote was a series of speakers all talking about various cool technologies Microsoft has. It doesn't take sherlock Holmes to realise that I'm more of an Apple guy, but anybody in their right mind should be able to recognize cool tech when they see it. There were demos of Chat bots, meeting room/whiteboard devices, machine learning and more!

Some of you might not know, but for 2 years, I was actually a part time, during study and summers, C#/.Net dev a few years ago... so a lot the tooling is quite familiar to me (and I actually like). Stay tuned for a rant about tooling in a future post.

The rest of the talks seemed super polished and I got to do my talk yesterday afternoon too. It was titled the Future of Apps and described the transition from Apps to Services with many devices being able to offer interactions with users for a given service. More on that in a future post.

I also got to try out the HoloLens... and that was seriously impressive. I did a couple of Computer Vision and Mixed Reality courses at University so it's really cool to see it in practice and so polished - it's definitely not an easy task. I'll talk more about that in a future post too*.

Anyway, Ignite is pretty darn cool. It's definitely a different crowd to what I'm used to (fewer hipsters and a bit more enterprise vendors) but once you get through that, the code and demos during the talks is awesome and I'm quite enjoying my self so far.

If you're also at the conference, feel free to come say hi - I'm @samjarman - just tweet me and we'll arrange something.

Take care,


*Boy, I've promised so many posts. Joy...

Update: Posts are now viewable at SamJarman.co.nz/Blog