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Partners Cheer As Microsoft Opens HoloLens Preorders For Developers

Partners are pleased that Microsoft's wearable holographic headset-based computer, HoloLens, is now available for developers to preorder, opening up the possibility of real-life applications.

Partners are applauding the availability on Monday of Microsoft's wearable holographic headset-based computer, HoloLens, for developers to preorder.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company's announcement means developers will begin to create real-life applications for HoloLens, representing a major step toward putting the augmented-reality headgear on the market.

"The key [for HoloLens] are applications. … That's what it comes down to," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Microsoft partner based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "There are a few verticals, such as manufacturing, that could use HoloLens. … It all comes down to price, battery life and connectivity."

[Related: 10 Virtual Reality Products That Took Us To Another World At Mobile World Congress 2016]

The release of HoloLens to developer applicants represents a "monumental step forward" for the product, according to Alex Kipman, a technical fellow in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, in a blog post.

HoloLens development kits will begin shipping in the U.S. and Canada on March 30, and will cost $3,000.

Microsoft will also release additional development tools, such as Visual Studio projects and a HoloLens emulator to allow developers to test holographic apps on their PCs, on the same date.

With HoloLens, which was unveiled a year ago during Microsoft's Windows 10 launch event, users can create and shape holograms with gestures, communicate with apps using their voices, and navigate with a glance.

The holographic headset is powered by processors such as central processing and graphics processing units, in addition to a Microsoft-developed holographic processing unit.

HoloLens does not need a connection to a PC or mobile device to function properly, said Kipman -- a factor that separates the wearable from other headsets such as Oculus Rift. The device also supports Bluetooth 4.1, which enables users to use accessories.

"The future of technology will not be confined to just two dimensions -- our future interaction with technology will more closely [mirror] our real world," stated Kipman in a blog post. "This is the first step in our journey to consumers. A step focused on our commercial partnerships and on supporting developers, who will help pave the way to consumer availability with amazing and new holographic experiences."

Virtual and augmented reality is an increasingly competitive market, as companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and Facebook prepare to release VR products to the market.

"Of interest will be the application of this technology in the enterprise, [including] employee training, access to technical info and schematics while working in production, quality control or even letting loose your inner geek in a sales presentation," said Douglas Grosfield, founder and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, a strategic service provider based in Kitchener, Ontario.

"Several competing or at least similar products are also seeking to define the market as the technology evolves," he said. "Google Glass, Meta One and, of course, Oculus Rift are some that come to mind, though all are focused on slightly different applications of immersion technologies such as VR."

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