You currently can sign up to be selected to receive a HoloLens dev kit sometime in the 1st quarter of 2016. The advertised price is $3000 and there’s been lots of kerfuffle over this online, both pro and con. On the one hand, a high price tag for the dev kit ensures that only those who are really serious about this amazing technology will be jumping in. On the other hand, there’s the justifiable concern that only well heeled consulting companies will be able to get their hands on the hardware with this entry price, keeping it out of the hands of indie developers who may (or may not) be able to do the most innovative and exciting things with it.
I feel that both perspectives have an element of truth behind it. Even with the release of the Kinect a few years ago (which had a much much lower barrier to entry) there were similar conversations concerning price and accessibility. All this comes down to a question of who will do the most with the HoloLens and have the most to offer. In the long run, after all, it isn’t the hardware that will be expensive but instead the amount of time garage hackers as well as industry engineers are going to invest into organizing, designing and building experiences. At the end of the day (again from my experience with the Kinect) 80 per cent of these would be bleeding edge technologists will end up throwing up their hands while the truly devoted, it will turn out, never even blinked at the initial price tag.
Concerning the price tag, however, I feel like we are underestimating. For anyone currently planning out AR experiences, is only one HoloLens really going to be enough? I can currently start building HoloLens apps using Unity 3D and have a pretty good idea of how it will work out when (if) I eventually get a device in my hands. There will be tweaking, obviously, and lots of experiential, UX, and performance revelations to take into account, but I can pretty much start now. What I can’t do right now — or even easily imagine – is how to collaborate and share experiences between two HoloLenses. And for me, this social aspect is the most fascinating and largely unexplored aspect of augmented reality.
Virtual reality will have its own forms of sociality that largely revolve around using avatars for interrelations. In essence, virtual reality is always a private experience that we shim social interactions into.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, is essentially a social technology that, for now, we are treating as a private one. Perhaps this is because we currently take VR experiences as the template for our AR experiences. But this is misguided. An inherently and essentially social technology like HoloLens should have social awareness as a key aspect of every application written for it.
Can you build a social experience with just one HoloLens? Which leaves me wondering if the price tag for the HoloLens Development Edition is just $3000 as advertised? Or is it really $6000?
Finally, what does it take to be the sort of person who doesn’t blink at coughing up 3K – 6K for an early HoloLens?
You might be a HoloLens developer if:
- Your most prized possession is a notebook in which you are constantly jotting down your ideas for AR experiences.
- You are spending all your free time trying to become better with Unity, Unreal and C++.
- You are online until 3 in the morning comparing Microsoft and Magic Leap patents.
- You’ve narrowed all your career choices down to what gives you skills useful for HoloLens and what takes away from that.
- You’ve subscribed to Clemente Giorio’s HoloLens Developers group or Gian Paolo Santapaolo’s HoloLens Developers Worldwide group on Facebook.
- You know the nuanced distinctions between various waveguide displays.
- You don’t get “structured light” technology and “light field” technology confused.
- You practice imaginary gestures with your hands to see what “feels right”.
- You watch the Total Recall remake to laugh at what they get wrong about AR.
- You are still watching the TV version of Minority Report to try to see what they are getting right about AR.
Please add your own “You might be a HoloLens developer if” suggestions in the comments. 🙂