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Virtual Reality Developers React to Microsoft’s HoloLens

A few weeks ago at Microsoft’s Windows 10 briefing the company finally showed off its own head-mounted display (HMD). The technology giant surprised many by not taking the virtual reality route, and instead introducing the 3D hologram based HoloLens. Setting itself apart from the virtual reality (VR) HMD Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, the new device aims bring together peoples real and technological lives.

VRFocus reached out to some videogame developers for their opinions on the device. Some are still unsure if the device can pull off such intricateaugmented reality (AR), howevergenerally people are excited to see what comes next and are intrigued at designing content for the Hololens.

Tom Beardsmore from Coatsink Software who has been working on VR title Esper, voiced his scepticism for the product: “I, like most people, was very impressed by the video. But on reflection, I’m skeptical to be honest,” he said. “As Valve once pointed out, there are a lot of challenges with ‘hard’ AR which HoloLens would have to overcome if it’s to achieve what the video would lead us to believe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they pulled it off though? I’d love to get my hands on a dev kit…”

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On the other hand Elisa Di Lorenzo at Untold Games responsible for Loading Human, stated that the technology’s step towards AR was bold: “This tech is extremely interesting and we’re looking forward to seeing more about it”.

“The video Microsoft showed is very bold and we are curious to see how things will work out in the future,” she continued. “As Microsoft’s own examples show there are countless of applications in any field, ranging from productivity applications to various forms of entertainment. It would be interesting to explore highly immersive experiences that smoothly mix the reality you are in with a game, no matter where you physically are”.

“Input controls will be even more crucial, and at the point when you will interact with artificial elements with the simple movement of your own body as if they were actually around you, we will need a huge step forward in haptic feedback technology too. Just like with Virtual Reality.”

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Ikrima Elhassan of Kite & Lightning, the studio responsible for Senza Polo suggested that the use of ‘3D holograms’ was a smart move as AR gets a ‘negative connotation’: “Excited about the possibilities of the tech. I think it’s a smart move labelling it as “Hologram technology although it’s pretty much AR. I think AR has a bad negative connotation as failed technology. The hype/promise of it doesn’t match what the tech can deliver right now, similar to VR efforts in the 90s. Long-term, hard AR is a for sure big win. Recontextualizing it the way that MS did is a pretty smart marketing move and will probably get people to look at it again with fresh eyes”.

“As for specific types of experiences, I think the key thing with AR is integrating your surroundings” he stated. “Being able to depth map a living room for example and having content play to that living room is fantastically magical. Our experience with AR was that the novelty of seeing something cool in your surrounding wears off after a bit. But, if we were able to have interactive experiences that lean more towards mixed-reality, that would be eye opening.”

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Founder and CEO of cinematic VR company,  Jaunt Jens Christensen is excited about the continuum of AR and VR being both sides of the same coin: “From what I’ve seen since the announcement earlier today, the HoloLens looks like a fantastic product. We see VR and AR as being part of a continuum; both AR and VR are going to need great content, so we see it as an opportunity. I love the idea of being able to add content to the world around you and interact with it. It’s obviously challenging technology to build, but from the press reports I’ve seen, the HoloLens looks very promising.”

Although excited about the device, Tony Davidson of Innerversion VR responsible for Ethereon, suggests that Microsoft’s HoloLens was not really the VR device he was looking for: “The HoloLens device is amazingly cool but as a VR enthusiast at heart it’s not the HMD I’m looking for from Microsoft. I’m still expecting a more practical VR-specific device to become available in the near future for the Xbox and so I’ll be a lot more excited when that finally happens.”

He went on to state: “But I think that Microsoft has a lot to offer us and this new AR device is a testament of that fact. There are some really impressive features packed into this little device and it would be great to see the same level of commitment put into a dedicated VR device by Microsoft.”

“If Microsoft decides to reveal an HMD for delivering VR experiences then I hope it’s as feature-packed and well-designed as the HoloLens device appears to be. If so then Id’ be one of the first to knock on that door. But for now, Sony has gotten my interest.”

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Ana Ribeiro of Pixel Rift suggested that the AR technology is definitely impressive yet not something for the players : “”I see HoloLens as a natural way of using technology. The way we use tech now a days feels wrong we separate ourselves from others because we are constantly holding a device in our hands. The interesting thing is that it connects data with our reality pretty well, it will be a transformation on the way we behave as individuals and specially in society. HoloLens will dominate the mobile market and I wonder what Apple is developing right now. ”

She continued: “AR will be the new way to interact with technology which will be used by everyone. I don´t think it will be a big thing for gamers, who Always prefer a more immersive experience. And VR is the one for this. To be honest I’m more interested and excited to work with VR at the moment. The idea of travelling to different realities is what excites me the most and the stronger media for this is still VR.”

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VRFocus has previously spoken to developers about thoughts when the HoloLens was originally unveiled. Though generally developers and consumers alike are still sceptical about the technology, it is good to see that some are excited on getting their hands on the development kit. VR has really taken off the past two years, and it will be interesting to see AR do the same. VRFocus will keep you updated on the progress of HoloLens.