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All posts tagged Hololens

MicrosoftEdu 2017 Is On May 2nd

MicrosoftEdu will kick-off tomorrow in New York and whilst the hashtag and event name indicate an education-centric theme many are predicting a big hardware announcement.

MicrosoftEdu - Event

For those who want to follow the Livestream, the begins at May 2nd, 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

The technology announced will focus on the education market which is a highly competitive market. Microsoft and Google (and to some extent Apple) are fighting over school districts, teachers and students. Until now, the focus was on learning platforms and productivity suites / apps with Google holding the upper hand in the device market.

Google Chromebooks make a great hardware solution for schools who buy into the Google ecosystem. Until now, Microsoft could only counter this with OEM budget laptops but these came with full Windows 10. An Intel Atom device with an SSD certainly gave more bang for buck but was it the economical choice?

What Can We Expect Then?

Microsoft are expected to announce new hardware and going out on a limb, I predict the following at MicrosoftEdu:

  • Microsoft Surface Cloudbook:
    • A Chromebook killer / competitor.
    • Highly portable but probably classic clamshell laptop style.
  • Windows 10 Cloud:

Windows 10 Paint 3D - MicrosoftEdu

The Warptest POV

If MicrosoftEdu delivers a hardware – software ecosystem designed for educators and students in Surface design then this will light a fire under the existing fight for this market.

A Surface Cloudbook for education must be aggressively priced to compete and win over schools on old-style LMS looking to upgrade. Things Microsoft should be delivering at MicrosoftEdu to seal the deal:

  • Cortana for kids and or integrated into Microsoft Classroom. Especially with app integrations like homework reminders from Cortana & child filtered research for projects.
  • A strategic partnership with a multimedia content platform that can compete with YouTube.
  • Early adopters deal bundling Surface Dial with the Surface Cloudbook and added cloud storage.
  • Mixed Reality for education: if you jump to the HoloLens page, directly below the intro video is a link to the MicrosoftEdu event. Why? What could be more natural than to leverage HoloLens and the OEM Windows 10 headsets for the education market?

MicrosoftEdu - Hololens

I’m ready to be wowed, how about you?

HoloLens Was Released as a Developer Edition…

HoloLens shipped to developers on the first day of BUILD 2016 and it played a mainstay in the Day One keynote. Previous demonstrations showed us a toolset for building holographic animations. At BUILD, Alex Kipman introduced a demo from Case Western Medical School, showing how they use HoloLens as an immersive teaching tool. In addition, the Galaxy Explorer app was demoed along with NASA-JPL’s Destination Mars app.

The multimedia content displayed looks incredible, as do apps like Skype on HoloLens.

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Microsoft provide everything developers need to get started. The tools needed are mostly what developers already have aboard their PC. Developers don’t even need a HoloLens to get started, as Microsoft has created an emulator.

This is all true but what about creating photo, video and livestream holograms?

Creating Holograms, VR and Immersive Content

If you follow the race to deliver affordable, consumer technology for creating immersive content then you know that this is an open market right now.

We are seeing GoPro developing high-end and consumer rigs, companies like Luna with their ball-cam. Recently, Wired featured an article exploring how a Microsoft engineer created a Star Wars-like hologram of his daughter. Nutshell, to create this hologram of a person takes an array of 3D capture cameras.

The problem is a device like HoloLens is only as good as the ease with which you can get an immersive experience on it.

Many consumers may be able to afford a HoloLens but being able to setup 3D video or image capture to create holograms seems pricey and complex. When most people want to Snapchat, Instagram, Vine etc. there are not going to be comparable Holographic apps without affordable, easy consumer capture technology.

The Warptest POV

There is a flawed expectation, if we have incredible technology for photo and video capture on our smartphones that we will get the equivalent for HoloLens now. Work usage of HoloLens in many use cases relies heavily on 3D CAD or animation. Consumers are going to want to see their photos, videos or livestream video chat holographically on HoloLens. How are Microsoft going to solve this before HoloLens launches as a mainstream, consumer device?

  1. Microsoft created Photosynth to solve the issue of 3D capture and rendering from PC and smartphone. A HoloSynth version would allow a wraparound or full synth hologram.
  2. Dual lens smartphones are not entirely a new concept. Using dual lens cameras Microsoft could create stereographic 3D capture apps. (Surface Phone anyone?)
  3. Right now I’m experimenting with simultaneous image capture from multiple smartphones. Theoretically an app to sync the capture from several devices could also result in a render / synth solution.
  4. The rebirth of the photo booth. When was the last time you saw, let alone took photos in a photo booth? Now imagine Microsoft takes their existing 3D capture tech and creates digital booths. These could be in each Microsoft Store. This will at least allow you to holo-stream to HoloLens Skype or, take holographic photos and video.

Each of these have pros and cons. Cost versus compromises in image or video quality. The ability to create holograms from your smartphone using an app, even of lower quality add value to HoloLens as a consumer device and open up the potential for app creation.

HoloLens - Superman III Photo booth scene

A physical photo booth means going to the booth but this is comparable to using green screen technology. The benefit of paying once to create your holograms opens this up to anyone who wants to opt in but doesn’t want to buy the hardware themselves. Let’s face it, photo booths were cool and fun. This would also make holographic video and photos accessible for app developers.

It’s important to remember that HoloLens is in the early days of its journey to mainstream consumer use. This means that solutions to these challenges will come but not right away. It also means whoever develops software and hardware solutions for the consumer market stands to clean up nicely. It’s a safe bet to expect hologram sharing platforms, social and drone integration to name a few other directions.

Are you excited by the possibilities that HoloLens is offering us?

The Windows 10 Devices Presentation From New York…

… delivered on so many levels but ultimately Microsoft showed a unified direction, a collective energy unmatched by any other event so far this year and incredible devices running Windows 10.

Many people were concerned that without Joe Belfiore onstage we couldn’t expect the best, however what we got was clearly the best and brightest that Redmond has to offer, their A-Team; Terry Myerson bounded on stage to introduce the event and talk about Hololens followed by Lindsey Maltese of the Microsoft Band team, talking about the Band 2, then we got to see the incredible Panos Panay bring his incredible energy to the stage about Surface and Lumia devices with Bryan Roper dazzling us with Lumia and Continuum.

The livestream event ran for a whopping 95 minutes and every bit of this time was maximized to deliver the new Windows 10 Devices across the spectrum. Devices that across the board are best of breed.

If you find the last statement hard to believe then I suggest you watch the presentation for yourself right here.

The Unified Message

It became rapidly apparent that besides the very genuine enthusiasm and passion the presenters brought onstage, the central theme or message behind the livestream event was that all the Windows 10 Devices were designed without compromise to ensure maximum productivity.

Whatever you want to do with the device in front of you Microsoft intends to ensure you can be your most productive whilst using that device; with Windows 10 as the enabler. In addition, each presenter made strong mention of the ever increasing number of partners working with Microsoft on Windows 10, Universal Apps and new Windows 10 Devices.

Terry Myerson kicked of the event by letting us have some adoption stats for Windows 10: –

Windows 10 Devices - stats

Devices, Devices, Devices…

HOLOLENS.. a glimpse of the future of mixed reality, immersive gaming. If you’re not excited by this you must be catatonic

BAND 2

LUMIA 950 & 950 XL and the LUMIA 550

SURFACE PRO4.. with a new pen with built-in eraser and interchangeable tips and tight app integration.

SURFACE BOOK.. Microsoft’s first laptop, designed to be the ultimate lightweight, super-powered productivity device.

Amazing accessories which are backwards compatible with the SURFACE PRO3

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Screencaps of Windows 10 Devices Livestream courtesy of my Lumia 810

The way we work and interact with our personal computers is evolving. The first phase was touch, then we moved to personal assistants aboard like Cortana & Siri, form factors have changes with hybrid devices, tablets and others but the Windows 10 Devices Event showed an ecosystem of devices with a shared platform, portability based on the user and incredibly engineered and designed user experiences from mixed reality gaming on Hololens, a wearable that guides and interacts with our exercise, environment and other devices in the Band 2, incredible new phones in the Lumia 950 and 950XL which have achieved the Holy Grail of a true pocket PC thru Windows 10 and Continuum, biometric recognition for login and purchase in Windows Hello and to quote Panos Panay true “lapability” with the next evolutions of the laptop in the Surface Pro4 and the stunning new Surface Book.

Each of these are best of breed devices whose impact will undoubtedly change the way we work and play, change ease of use and our productivity.

All of this made possible by Windows 10 but the secret sauce Microsoft displayed at this event isn’t just winning hardware and incredible designs that beat the pants off the competition, it’s the passion and enthusiasm, the unified vision displayed by the Windows 10 Devices team. If Panos Panay is the King of Presentations, then Bryan Roper is the Crown Prince.

The Warptest POV

As we’ve mentioned in the past, the secret sauce that pulls Windows 10 Devices and OS integration tightly together are Universal Apps but the combination of amazing devices that combine the last word in productivity, portability and some very clever accessories with the presenters had seasoned tech reporters and bloggers giving standing ovations. When was the last time Microsoft got a standing ovation?

It should be clear that the direction and vision that Satya Nadella chose is coming to fruition and after seeing the Lumia 950 and 950XL in action I feel sorry for the trolls and naysayers. This is a winning vision.

The level of confidence was clearly indicated in the way that almost every benchmark comparison of Windows 10 Devices was to an equivalent Apple device. This was done without snark or hostility, simply a comparison of performance, ours versus theirs. Well except for one comment about Apple’s pencil not having an eraser but hey, it was funny.

I decided that the POV section is best served by embedding some of my real time comments from Twitter / Facebook as I watched the event.

I just watched the Microsoft livestream for new #Windows10devices and I have never had delivery so exceed…

Posted by Warptest on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

 

Companies who are not buying into Universal Apps for #Windows10 are clearly lacking vision and are basically missing the…

Posted by Jonathan Ross on Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Many if not all these devices will be available towards the end of October. If you have the chance then go hands on for yourself and I bet you’ll understand why the standing ovation and again as Panos Panay said,

Microsoft brought the Thunder…

How Can Leonard Nimoy Get Us To Mars?

Some context, I have spent the past few weeks researching blog posts on Windows10, a follow-up post to how the Messaging App niche is exploding and another testing post.

I switched on my phone this evening at the end of the Jewish Shabbat to see that Leonard Nimoy had passed away. Like many people of my generation, he was an actor who inspired us onscreen and off.

Leonard Nimoy - Spock

Most famous for his performance on Star Trek as Mr. Spock, the Vulcan science officer whose cold logic and wry tone were the perfect counterfoil to Captain James T. Kirk who both on small and large screen won the day with his passion, ability to woo alien ladies and his illogical way of defeating the odds.

Nimoy made science cool and taught the layman that space was not just going to be won by the lantern jawed heroes but by fact, logic and science too.

Thinking about all this led me to some interesting conclusions about various tech news over the past weeks.

Connections That Lead To Space, The Final Frontier…

Microsoft announced Windows10 several weeks ago and with it the astounding Hololens, the innovative holographic, interactive headset poised to change the world of computing as we know it.

Leonard Nimoy - Microsoft Hololens

Image courtesy of Microsoft Hololens Site

Meanwhile, Microsoft and NASA announced collaboration on building an app for Hololens to aid in exploration of Mars.

Leonard Nimoy - Mars Onsight app

The app will be called OnSight and will allow NASA scientists to interact holographically with the Mars Rover according to CNET.

All this is incredibly cool and will reduce the massive overhead and technical challenges with delivering astronauts to Mars surface in the immediate future. However, the problem of Space travel and exploration has always been that so few were able to dream let alone attain this incredible adventure.

This is where current Space travel fell so far short of the ideas we saw in Star Trek of fleets of starships venturing forth to the stars exploring and discovering new worlds and whilst the incredible scientific discoveries and advances due to Space travel can be found in almost every field, most people feel a huge disconnect from the ROI of going into space.

Where Does Elon Musk Fit Into All This?

Along comes Elon Musk and suggests that the key to successful exploration of Mars is internet that reaches all of Mars and back to Earth.

Leonard Nimoy - Elon Musk Mars Internet

Image courtesy of Phys.org post linked above

There is a lot of truth to Musk’s hypothesis and given his ideas on other subjects, I’d bet on him.

The Warptest POV

That said, Mars Internet is the solution to allowing many more of us to fully embrace Space travel and specifically Mars Exploration; if this works in concert with Microsoft Hololens and NASA’s OnSight App.

Imagine if any Hololens owner with NASA’s app can connect using Elon Musk’s Mars Internet provider. NASA will de facto have crowdsourced the exploration of Mars if they timeshare several Mars Rovers (or perhaps in the future Mars friendly drones) using the vital bandwidth of Musk’s Mars Internet.

This will provide an incredible experience for young and old, people of all kinds and races. If this isn’t a similar vision to Starfleet (albeit virtual and holographic) then what is?

This could be the chance for many of us to boldly go where no one has gone before, even if it’s just from the visor of Microsoft Hololens.

Wouldn’t you leap at the chance to explore the Stars?

This post is dedicated to Leonard Nimoy and the inspiration he gave onscreen and off to so many.

Live Long and Prosper.

 

 

The Windows10 Briefing Is Over…

… if you watched it and weren’t impressed by the incredible display of passion and innovation and then you probably don’t have one uncynical bone in your body.

Windows10 by all definitions appears to be outrageously good and Microsoft have clearly been working tooth and nail to deliver what promises to be an incredible User Experience. Much of this they credit to the vast number of participants in the Windows Insider Program.

What Do We Know?

After an all-star cast from Microsoft presented various aspects of what Windows10 is going to be all about; here’s what we know: –

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  1. FREE in the first year: Microsoft will make it free, yes FREE to upgrade Windows 8.1 in the first year of Windows10 release. Note to all those misunderstanding this: after a year you aren’t going to get charged, stop being so daft. There’s more though: this free upgrade extends to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 7. Yes you read that right, if you have Windows 7 you can upgrade for FREE!!! Now I assume you will want to run a compatibility check to ensure your hardware can handle Windows10 but the implication is most of the hardware will be supported.
  2. UNIVERSAL Apps: Microsoft never does anything without one eye on their developer community and this is no exception. The big example cited is Office for Windows10. The new Office will work cross-device and have strong touch-orientation.
    1. Continuum is a colossally important feature. It’s all about responsive OS and behavior of devices based on context and use: docked hybrid devices act and display like a laptop, undocked Continuum allows them to behave like a tablet.
  3. CORTANA on the PC: Joe Belfiore and Cortana gave an amazing, humorous but informative presentation of just how Cortana will be implemented on the Desktop.
  4. SPARTAN: Microsoft reimagines the browser. This is not an attempt to kill Internet Explorer, instead this is a new browser to respond to the evolution of the web. Spartan is intended as a browser that maximizes productivity through richer interaction with web content.
  5. XBOX and Windows10: Xbox will have an app in Windows10 on every device. The app won’t only allow for social networking but will have some killer features:
    1. Game DVR for recording the previous 30 seconds, trimming and sharing epic moments from within the game.
    2. Direct-X 12 which will make drastic performance and resource improvements, and better power consumption for mobile gaming.
    3. Cross-platform game play between Xbox and Windows10 of games available on both platforms.
    4. Streamed play of Xbox only games from on Windows10 devices.
  6. Devices: this is where things get radically innovative: –
    1. The SURFACE HUB: Microsoft delivers the ultimate in work productivity and collaboration devices. This is a wall-mounted 84″, touch tablet with stylus, sensors, wifi and more: –
      1. Taking remote meetings and collaborating split screen will be just awesome.
      2. Wired or wireless connection for projected presentations.
      3. Whiteboard just by picking up the stylus and OneNote for the Hub appears.
    2. HOLOLENS and Windows HOLOGRAPHIC: Microsoft unveils a taste of future computing based on holograms. Instead of immersive virtual experience, the technology will exist and interact with our real worlds as holograms: –
      1. HOLOLENS is the wearable visor computer that allows the wearer to create, view and interact with Windows10 and through holographic versions of existing apps and by creating 3D holograms with an incredible Holographic Studio.
      2. Microsoft has created a whole new processing unit, the HPU to support what can only be described as the most incredible and covert (until now) of Redmond’s innovations.

    You can see an amazing video on Microsoft’s Hololens Page

    1. 2015 will be the year of undisclosed Windows 10 flagship phones.
    2. OEM devices. So far Windows 8 has encouraged some interesting devices from the OEMs. With geometrically greater levels of awesomeness from Windows10 we can expect even greater devices from the OEMs.

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The Warptest POV

Microsoft pulled out the big guns with the team that pitched Windows10 including CEO Satya Nadella, Joe Belfiore and Terry Myerson but the star of the briefing has to be Alex Kipman whose raw passion and drive and obvious high level of technical know-how shone through in his presentation of Microsoft’s Hololens and Holographic technology. When watching him I felt I was watching a Steve Jobs era Apple presentation.

Windows10 - Alex Kipman

The partnership with the Jet propulsion Lab and the demonstration of holographic interaction with the Mars Rover drove home how far Microsoft have pushed the boundaries of innovation taking this kind of wearable in a completely different direction from Google Glass. As one of the scientists noted in the short clip “they have made science-fiction into science fact”. In fact the announcement of a NASA App today led me to make this comment on Facebook:

 

Clearly Microsoft have brought their A game to Windows10 and adhered to the new reimagining of the company as the mobile first, cloud first, productivity company.

The free upgrade offering not just from Windows 8x or Windows Phone 8x but also Windows 7 is a huge change for the consumer and Microsoft. Whilst many of the more conservative Windows users will want to stay with Windows 7, the UX of Windows10 should make this a hard to resist proposition.

Cortana and Spartan are game changers for desktop and tablet devices and with Continuum the UX will at last truly tailor itself in a contextual and use case manner.

The demonstration of Xbox and the Xbox app left me impressed with Direct-X 12, the game demo and the Unity announcement make me think seriously about if and when I’m going to get back into gaming.

One has to wonder just how much of this innovation began under Steve Ballmer and has now come to fruition. Clearly, Hololens has been a long-term project in the making.

In a nutshell, as a Windows Insider with free access to the preview versions I’m only more excited to see these new features in action and test them for myself.

I’m giving Windows10 a strong Warptest recommendation. If you haven’t signed on as a Windows Insider you should do it now and see for yourself as well.