Bots, Augmented Reality Big Hits at Microsoft Build
At its annual Build event in San Francisco last week, Microsoft gave developers a glimpse of a next-generation user interface, and filled in the story with a look at new capabilities to support it: augmented reality capabilities and futuristic apps.
The UI is built around “conversations” – natural-language discussions with Cortana and Windows technology that gets you what you want. A key piece of the puzzle are bots, or agents expert in specific areas, like local shopping or travel. The bots can go out and take care of everyday tasks for you, like deciding where to stay on a business trip and making your hotel reservations.
HoloLens’ new reality
For the second year in a row, HoloLens took center stage at Build. The hardware-and-software programming platform for augmented-reality computing began shipping to developers during the conference. While there, I got to take Microsoft’s mini HoloLens Academy for the second straight year. It’s come a long way, and is now clearly ready for developers to get their hands on it.
In the Academy session, we used the beta version of the Unity-for-HoloLens toolset, which will be bundled in some versions of Unity 5. We programmed our headsets so we could enable holograms, and then placed them around the room, A half-dozen classmates and I networked our HoloLens headsets so we could do stuff together with the holographic images. Like shoot them with our fingers.
Microsoft also announced at Build that the Vuforia augmented reality (AR) SDK would now support HoloLens. We think this is great news for both the Vuforia platform and Microsoft. Vuforia has been untethered since PTC bought the operation from Qualcomm. It is now free to support any OS and platform. Like HoloLens and Windows, for example.
We see Vuforia as the best platform available to mesh AR with virtual reality (VR), which is an important capability for HoloLens developers. Continuing with the Caterpillar example, the tractor company might use VR for an agent that takes service technicians inside the vehicle, giving them visual, step-by-step instructions for repairing or replacing parts.
Vuforia is the de facto standard for AR application developers. With more than 200,000 registered developers globally, Vuforia has powered more than 250 million application installs. Vuforia has been widely utilized by leading consumer brands to market products. Now that it's part of PTC, Vuforia is increasingly being used by enterprises to change the way they sell, create, operate, and service products.
Indeed, Vuforia is emerging as a great way to make AR and VR a reality!