Microsoft is unveiling exactly what apps and games will ship on its HoloLens headset today. Developers will be able to start testing their own apps and games on March 30th once devices start shipping, but Microsoft is making seven apps / games available on the HoloLens development edition to encourage developers to build more.
HoloStudio is the first app, and it's one we got to test during the first unveiling of the device last year. HoloStudio combines gestures, voice, and the HoloLens gaze feature to allow users to create 3D objects. It's a complex application, but its inclusion in the dev kit shows that Microsoft wants to prove to potential developers that apps and games can be more than just the basics.
It's easy to imagine how Skype could be used with holograms
Microsoft is also making Skype available for download, allowing HoloLens users to make calls to anyone. Developers will be able to see each other's holograms through a Skype call and be able to illustrate them. It's one of the more unique parts of the Skype HoloLens experience, and one that we were impressed by during our first look at HoloLens. Skype calls are two-way, so a HoloLens version could allow for anyone to draw objects into your living room from afar. You could imagine a future where surgeons perform surgery and guide a colleague through it all without being in the room.
HoloTour is the third and final app included out of the box, and is designed to reproduce panoramic 360-degree views of places Rome and Machu Picchu. It's a little like many of those travel apps you might use on a phone, but the experience is obviously a lot more immersive. It also sounds a lot more like virtual reality, rather than the augmented reality experiences we're used to seeing on HoloLens.
Three games come with HoloLens development edition
On the games side, Microsoft is shipping Fragments, Young Conker, and RoboRaid as part of the HoloLens. Fragments is a mixed reality crime drama that makes use of your own living room. Characters will appear and sit down on your sofa to strike up a conversation, demonstrating the augmented reality features of HoloLens. "This game also taught us something unexpected about mixed reality," Explains Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda. "When your living room has been used as the set for a story, it generates memories for you of what digitally happened in your space like it was real."
Microsoft's Conker game for the HoloLens comes in the form of Young Conker. We're not sure if this particular edition comes with the unique brand of humor associated with Conker, but it does have some unique gameplay thanks to holograms. Each level is tailored to your environment, and Young Conker uses traditional platform gaming mechanics mixed with ordinary objects in your living room.
RoboRaid is the third and final game for HoloLens, previously codenamed Project X-Ray. We saw a glimpse of this at E3 last year, and it's essentially a robot battle game. RoboRaid combines wearable holograms into a first-person shooter. Like the other games, it uses your living room as the environment for a mixed reality alien invasion. Spatial sound guides you around the game, and you interact with it using gaze, gestures, and regular voice input.
Microsoft is also bringing a new app to HoloLens in the summer: Actiongram. It's designed as a simple storytelling app, to let developers create videos with special effects that can be viewed on HoloLens. All of these apps and games are designed to be examples for developers to follow and create their own experiences. "I could not dream of a more exciting moment in time than the first time I boot up my personal HoloLens and see one of your holographic experiences available to me in the Windows Store," says Tsunoda. "As thrilled as I have been to be at the forefront of holographic computing, it is clear that as a development platform we are just scratching the surface of what the world can do with holograms."