HolonizeThePlanet - Leap

Environments, tools, and training

Let’s recap: We’re developing software for a device that doesn’t exist yet. The device is for a market that doesn’t exist yet. As we established last time, we don’t have the finished tools we need to complete our application. Hmm…

This should take a degree of insanity to seem like a good idea. What makes us confident in our ability to write software for HoloLens right now is our comfort with the tools.

For example: we know that HoloLens runs Windows 10. At the very least, whatever we make needs to run in Windows 10. We’ve been using the technical preview for a while now and from our point of view it’s a cross between Windows 7 and Windows 8. We’re at home here.

Next up: HoloLens runs Universal Windows Applications. These are built with Visual Studio 2015, which isn’t that different from Visual Studio 2012, which isn’t too different from Visual Studio 2010. They actually add an amazing amount features each version, but for our purposes it’s the same Visual Studio we know and love.

HoloLens also runs Unity 5.0. Some of us have been using Unity for the last three years, some haven’t. To learn how to develop 3D objects, perform animation, create event driven scripts and integrate the Visual Studio development environment with Unity 5.0 we set ourselves the challenge of creating 3D clocks and animating their hands to tell the correct time.

Those who didn’t learned by cheating and took the easy path. We imported a free clock model downloaded from the internet into Unity. Small win! Although, those that did know Unity, built the clock below.

After creating our model clocks, and animating them we had learned all we needed to know about the process of developing for HoloLens. I’m sure veteran Unity developers will be aghast at this claim, but keep in mind, we are not making a AAA game.

Remember back to those features a few posts ago: Sharing and Persistence. Our aim is to develop a process that will let users place objects in a room, turn their HoloLens off, come back the next day, turn their HoloLens on and find the object still where they left it. We also want to enable sharing of objects such that two people can interact with the same object and see each other as they perform these interactions.

We don’t have a HoloLens to test our applications on so in its absence we are using the Oculus Rift. Add to this the Leap Motion for gesture control and the Virtuix Omni which should arrive before Christmas and we have a hardware rig that will let us test 90% of our application before the HoloLens is available.

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