Getting stuck into Mixed Reality – Thank god for emulators

Starting to mess around with developing for mixed reality with the Microsoft Hololens emulator and Unity, and I have to say, its going surprisingly smoothly! Whilst I wont be able to buy myself an actual Hololens any time soon, the emulator does a very good job for development purposes, and works seamlessly with visual studio and Unity. (after taking 10m on first launch… but ah well, can’t be picky)

My last foray into the world of AR was back in 2014, using Qualcomm Vuforia and Unity. Whilst there were a few headaches, especially getting the apps to work on actual mobile devices, that development was also relatively smooth thanks to Unity’s in-built emulator, which allowed me to use my webcam to test out the scenes, holding up the physical AR targets created via Vuforia’s developer website. I have yet to use Vuforia again, since it was integrated into Unity as standard from the 2017.2 version onward, but look forward to doing so, as I have heard great things about it.

Back to the present, I was a little surprised, but delighted to find that everything went exactly as Microsofts tutorial said it would: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/academy. Once I updated my version of visual studio, and downloaded the emulator, https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/using-the-hololens-emulator, it was the next best thing to having a hololens in front of me.

Whilst it is still just a dev tool, and cannot replicate the sense of wonder and experience that I’m sure a real device would bring, it is very useful to train and learn with. With the cost of the hololens being so high, an effective emulator is essential, whether for poor students, or large companies who cannot afford a hololens per developer. It is reassuring to see it work so well, I am glad that microsoft have realised its importance.

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