Mixed Reality Dev Days 2019

Microsoft HQ

When I travel for work I’m normally representing one of our company’s clients and I’m at some sort of medical conference. This typically means that I’m on my feet all day and just helping people put on headsets and onboarding them with some AR or VR experience.

However, two weeks ago I finally had a chance to represent my own company for a developer event.

We’ve been a Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner for over a year now and with the announcement of the HoloLens 2 back in February, they decided to host a developer event focused on their new product and service offerings. So, my company decided to send me.

MRDevDays Badge
My temporary Microsoft badge.

Now, I love mixed reality. I think that AR and VR are the future and they have so much potential. I love playing with the latest technologies and I’m really excited for the HoloLens 2 so I was really looking forward to the event.

The event took place over two days at Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond. It was pretty much two days filled with talks from Microsoft employees and industry specialists about a variety of topics including the HoloLens 2, Mixed Reality Toolkit, Azure services, and more.

Mixed Reality in the Classroom
A good slide about MR in the classroom.

Now, between AR and VR, I think AR has the most potential and the very first time I put on the HoloLens I was blown away with the technology.

Sure, there are some technical limitations, but technology is only getting better and better. We see that with the HoloLens 2, which in my opinion is just a straight upgrade over the original.

I mean, you’re talking about a headset that not only provides a larger field of view and better spatial tracking but also adds new interaction methods. Plus, its even more comfortable.

HoloLens 2 Demo
A HoloLens 2 demo showcasing gesture-based interactions and spectator view.

Honestly, the most exciting new feature for me was the eye tracking. The new headset knows where you’re looking and so it can put things into better context. This means that it can do a lot more in terms of understanding what you are looking at, and it can even do stuff like auto-scroll a window when you’re reading.

Now, as someone that has to deal with a lot of mandatory text in the applications I work on, that is truly an amazing feature.

There’s no release date for the HoloLens 2 yet but they were allowing attendees of the event to try it out for themselves. So, naturally I had to give it a try. They mentioned that things aren’t final yet and it kinda showed, since the holograms weren’t very stable.

HoloLens 2 Selfie
Trying a new AR headset? Time to take a selfie.

The new gesture-based interaction system is really sweet though. Felt very intuitive to just reach out and grab objects and interact with them like I would any real object. I’m really excited to actually get a headset and start making applications that can utilize that.

Unfortunately the demo didn’t include anything related to eye tracking, but something to look forward to when the headset actually gets released I guess.

All the talks were really nice to attend as well. They were really interesting and it was so cool to just listen to the excitement and passion that the presenters had about mixed reality and technology in general. There were a lot of really thoughtful takeaways.

I really liked the talk by Mark Bolas where he said that we’re not just developing applications, but rather we’re at the forefront of this technology and we’re developing the culture of what this technology will be. That really resonated with me.

Microsoft Campus
The Microsoft campus.

It was a fairly packed event so there wasn’t a lot of time to check out the campus, but what I saw was pretty awesome. The campus is beautiful and reminded me of a nice university campus. It just seemed like a really cool place to work. It even had a pretty awesome cafeteria filled with a lot of really good food.

Overall, the event was fantastic. It was great to attend so many cool talks, try out the new HoloLens, and to talk to some like-minded people. It was also just refreshing to travel to an event that’s related to the stuff I actually do. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend more in the future!

Author: Gary

Explorer, Creator, Gamer. #IDKAIST MSc and #UOITGameDev Alumni.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *