Augmented reality? ... Virtual reality? ... Reality is Mixed.
Business mixed reality is a market segment with high potential ... to be developed, because there are still many doubts and, too many, the answers that we can find on this exciting topic. On this occasion, we invite you to explore Microsoft's proposal, presented in the significant framework of the 2019 edition of the MWC (Mobile World Congress). We talk about HoloLens-2.
This is the second round of Microsoft's flagship product for the enjoyment of immersive experiences, which has been a benchmark since its arrival on the market in early 2017. From the beginning, Microsoft raised an ambitious ecosystem with pieces deployed on its Azure platform and with the possibility of using Unity3d for the development of Mixed Reality applications, something very attractive in my case.
First of all, a brief brushstroke of the physical part of all this, the HoloLens, or as we say in the world: GLASSES.
I will tell you that the qualitative leap compared to its previous version has been very significant. Without entering details exhaustively, the most relevant physical aspects are:
- New Kinect Azure sensor.
- Own ARM processor.
- New tracking system to track where the user's eye looks (“eye tracking ").
- Field of view doubling (from 720p to 4K).
- More compact, ergonomic and lighter (made of carbon fiber).
- It does not require external sensors to detect the user's movements (gloves, etc.). My favorite feature.
As we say, this list is a small sketch of the wonders of this device. The main drawback, its price: $ 3.500, currently prohibitive outside the business environment. We will have to let time pass and we will see if in the end we have a more affordable version. To date, the demos and solutions that we can see on its different platforms testify that the Redmond company has chosen the business world as a target market for its powerful glasses. For example, there is no doubt that some video game creation studios have already noticed them.
Let's move on, let's salvage some theory.
Mixed Reality (MR) is made up of the most relevant aspects of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), thus improving the user experience.
- Virtual Reality (VR): is that technology that simulates a sensory experience to the user in a completely artificial environment, without having contact with anything that is in the outside world that surrounds him.
- Augmented Reality (AR): it is the technology that complements a real environment with digital objects that are incorporated into said environment and that are not really in it, thus improving the user's perceptions.
Let us now look at some of the software tools that we have at our disposal to carry out the development of a project that does reality all this sudoku of words and concepts. Projects that will make us enjoy this new world that opens before our eyes. We remind you of our common axis: Unity3D + HoloLens-2. The platform promoted by Microsoft includes a series of programs with everything necessary to let our imagination fly and delight our users, and these are:
And with this, we are almost ready to dive right into creating worlds on Mixed Reality. Without going into much detail — it would take a long time to tell. Tempt me! -, I list you how a Mixed Reality project should be approached in four steps (or six), with the designated platform:
- Import into Unity the Plugin for MR (Mixed Reality Toolkit)
- Create a project based on MR objects
- Develop and pretest with Unity3d.
- Withpilar the project for Microsoft Windows Device Portal.
- Deploy the project in Devide Portal.
- Simulate the scenario in a web browser or on the hardware itself, (the HoloLens) if we had them.
In conclusion, Mixed Reality (MR) opens up an infinite range of possibilities to build unforgettable experiences. With this new technology, the user experience is pushed to unsuspected limits, accessing fields where until now we could not imagine reaching.
For us, as developers, reaching these limits is a challenge: How far would it be possible to go? I sincerely believe that there are no limits to creativity and talent, with which the question has a simple answer: to infinity and beyond!
On a personal level, my curiosity for this technology began back in November 2017, when I was invited by Microsoft Azure to a webinar on the development of Mixed Reality applications with Unity3d. Until that time, I knew Unity well but had never had contact with MR technology before, and from the hand of the speaker, Marcos Rodriguez Calderon, I had the opportunity to introduce myself into it. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my gratitude to Marcos for the good time he gave us all the attendees and the attention he has given me after said event in order to continue delving into this magical world.