Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality kit made a live appearance Monday at a conference dedicated to the Unity cross-platform game engine. Pete Moss, lead engineer at Unity Technologies, took to the stage at Unite Boston 2015 to demonstrate some of the gaming capabilities of the kit.
Moss demonstrated a simple game that involved a wolf herding sheep into a shearing machine. The wolf walked toward Moss' gaze, enabling Moss to direct the wolf towards the sheep. Moss could also use the "select gesture" to make the wolf bark. This is something Microsoft has shown in previous demonstrations, and involves holding your hand out in front and tapping with your index finger.
The augmented reality design of HoloLens had some interesting attributes. As an example, the game level is "locked" in position: Moss demonstrated how he can walk away from the game, look back, and see the level floating in space at the same point above the monitor where it was before. Moss also noted the augmented reality design of the HoloLens is useful for development. "The beauty of the HoloLens is that I can wear the device and work on the computer at the same time," he said.
Moss confirmed that the gesture recognizer will be a part of Unity, but that on the whole, virtual reality and augmented reality support in the engine "still has a ways to go," and is under active development.
HoloLens is expected to launch during the first year of Windows 10's availability, but don't expect it to be available to the general public for a long time. Currently announced uses, such as in the Microsoft-NASA mission, show the potential for HoloLens' use in industry, and it's clear this is what Microsoft is primarily aiming the device for.
Nonetheless, Unity support is good for HoloLens. The first app for the device, "Microsoft IT Showcase," has already hit the Windows Store, but this is a Microsoft-developed app. Unity's commitment to extending their cross-platform engine's support to HoloLens is a good sign that third party developers are also showing interest.