How HoloLens Will Alter Your App-Building

HoloLab Image Microsoft

At its annual Build conference last week, Microsoft offered the press a hands-on look at its upcoming HoloLens, an augmented-reality headset that projects holograms on a front lens; users can manipulate the holograms via gesture and voice.

As part of the experience, Microsoft offered those reporters a chance to “build” their own, relatively uncomplicated app. The word “build” is in quotation marks because the ink-stained wretches didn’t actually construct the aforementioned apps from the ground up, which would have taken far longer than the session’s allotted time; rather, they slapped together some prebuilt assets in Unity before exporting the half-baked product to Visual Studio for finishing and uploading to the hardware.

Any developer potentially interested in creating apps for HoloLens will need to take into account a number of factors that don’t always come into play when building software for traditional screens, including:

  • Gesture
  • Voice recognition
  • Spatial audio and mapping
  • User point-of-view

That’s even before you consider the complexities inherent in having the holograms map themselves onto a real-world environment. Oh yeah, and because the HoloLens is a bit heavy (although reportedly well-balanced), developers will have to take into account the fatigue that might set in if the user wears it long enough.

In other words, if the HoloLens becomes a hit device, developers who want to port over existing apps will need to think about their product in radically new ways. How will voice support affect the UX of your productivity app? Is your game’s protagonist at risk of getting stuck in the middle of real-world objects? Questions along those lines will determine whether your software is capable of becoming a hit in this brave new world of augmented reality.

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