HoloLens Developer Kit Ships at End of March

Just in time for Build in San Francisco, Microsoft will make available a kit for developing for yet another extension of the Windows platform that will have you going all Johnny Mnemonic on your Visual Studio apps. You'll need to be a Windows Insider, though, before you can get your hand -- and face -- on one.

Visual Studio developers in larger numbers will be able to get their hands on yet another extension of the Windows 10 platform, the HoloLens, and it'll be shipping with a Developer's Kit at about the time the company is holding its major BUILD developer event in San Francisco.

A post from Microsoft Operating Systems Group Technical Fellow Alex Kipman says that the HoloLens Developer Kit can be pre-ordered now, with devices being shipped starting at the end of March. "This is the first step in our journey to consumers," writes Kipman. "A step focused on our commercial partnerships and on supporting developers, who will help pave the way to consumer availability with amazing and new holographic experiences."

Uses for the HoloLens aren't confined to futuristic Mars exploration or to gaming. There are some real serious and innovative practical applications already being explored by the wider developer community, including engineering, telehealth, and design (many of those ideas can be viewed here).

At USD$3,000, the HoloLens Developer's Kit doesn't come cheap. And obtaining it, according to the information posted on the HoloLens home page, isn't as easy sending a stack of bills to Microsoft. As in most previews, the company is filtering out the casual and curious developers so it can obtain refined feedback from serious developers who take the time to apply for the Windows Insider program, as well as making personal invitiations. The kit is only available, at least for now, in the U.S. and Canada.

What comes in the kit is the HoloLens itself and a mouse-like clicker for interacting with HoloLens-enabled apps, as well as accessories for powering up and storing the device. Because the HoloLens is based on Windows 10, the HoloLens Development Kit supports the Universal Windows Platform and Visual Studio, of course, but apps built in other development languages can be supported by extension and APIs. Quite a few apps in the Windows Store already support HoloLens: OneDrive, Maps, Remote Desktop, People, Movies & TV, Groove Music, even Microsoft Office.

BUILD attendees will be able to see a handful of HoloLens sessions to learn more. For those stuck at home, one way to obtain information on working with the HoloLens without owning one is to view the tutorials set up on the Windows Dev Center here. At present, only one introductory video is available, but there are plans to post videos for developing HoloLens apps with the Unity gaming platform, and others for developing using the various gesture capabilities of the device.

On a side note: Kipman is no technical slouch, as can be figured from his title. Much of the work he's done at Microsoft has involved spatial computing, with the resulting work being embedded in the Xbox, Kinect, and HoloLens. According to his LinkedIn profile, he holds the patents for 90 technologies he's developed at the company since joining them in 2001.

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