Developers from NASA, Skype and Trimble discuss building for HoloLens

hololens developer forum hololenspanel
While my hands-on experience with HoloLens was amazing, it left me with more questions than answers. Microsoft is being cagey about the details, of course, but it did host a developer forum to help those eager to start building for HoloLens better understand the process.

The panel included four stars of their respective geek fiefdoms — Jeff Norris, OnSight program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory; Almagor Aviad, senior product manager at Trimble; Mark Griswold, a professor and researcher specializing in medical imaging; and Megan Saunders, studio manager at Skype.

Discussion began with the general difficulty of designing for an entirely new device. Jeff Norris noted that HoloLens forces developers to “train our intuition in a completely new medium,” which provides a lot of creative opportunity, but also forces experimentation. Both he and Megan Saunders noted that, particularly for the early third-party developers invited to partner with Microsoft (the SDK is not public yet), there are no rules, no style guide, no established user interface. Some of that may be worked out by the time the device is opened up to all developers, but there’s certainly going to be a learning curve.

On the other hand, though, all four developers seemed to find the technical nitty-gritty of coding for holograms surprisingly straightforward. Mark Griswold, who admitted he no longer did much programming himself, described designing for the device as “almost drag and drop.” After reviewing the documentation, he had created his first hologram within five minutes. The developers also mentioned that the way HoloLens works as part of the Windows ecosystem makes building applications, and running them alongside content on a traditional PC, relatively simple.

From there, the panel switched to talking about collaboration. Saunders seemed to come very close to leaking information from a planned demo, but managed not to spill the beans, though she did mention that a new collaborative, view-sharing demo (powered by Skype, no doubt) is in the works. Aviad Almagor said his company, Trimble, which powered the demo I saw in my HoloLens hands-on, is looking to build collaborative tools that let people wearing the device see the location, orientation and gaze of other users.

For Jeff Norris, of NASA, this kind of collaboration is particularly exciting. His OnSight program transports people to the surface of Mars, a place humans currently can’t visit. The ability to work with other researchers in real time to explore and discover the surface of a distant planet could be revolutionary for the organization.

Saunders, the only person on the developer panel who works for Microsoft, ended discussion by teasing that the SDK is still in the works, with availability to be announced. When it will arrive is hard to say, but when it does, it’ll be available through the Windows Insider program.


Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Passenger spacecraft, Facebook data breach, and more

This episode of Digital Trends Live saw the fourth launch of passenger spacecraft SpaceShipTwo, and a Facebook data breach. We were also joined by the founder of Forter, Michael Reitblat, to discuss how to keep your data safe.

Psychedelic 'Spider-Man,' Superman goes evil, 'Star Trek: Discovery' trailer

This week on Between the Streams, we'll talk about the wondrous, psychedelic adventure that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. We'll also discuss Dr. Strange 2, the freaky trailer for Brightburn (Superman goes evil?), and more.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: S10 rumors, computer shoes, and the best products of 2018

On episode 35 of Digital Trends Live, hosts Greg Nibler and Nick Mokey discuss the revival of Puma's computer shoe, the possibility of a Tesla Truck, and DT's favorite products of the year.

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.