The HoloLens and Holographic Academy Experience

I consider myself extremely lucky, part of the future, special and being in the right place at the right time.

This is the HoloLens website.

As part of attending the Microsoft Build conference I got a chance to attend the Holographic Academy. I was one of the first few hundred developers to try developing an app for HoloLens. It was four and a half quality hours in a hotel hall with a big Microsoft team and magic all around. No cameras or recording devices allowed- so I don’t have photos to share. It’s still a lot of secrecy and unanswered questions but what a spectacular unveiling of the technology of the future!

Personal Setting
Somebody came with an optician tool to measure something about my eyes. I don’t understand it all but I believe it measures the space between the pupils. I got 60 as a number and I think it was the smallest number from the people around me- go figure.

The HoloLens customizations and deployments can be done wirelessly but in our with unreliable network, we had to connect the HoloLens to the computer through an USB cable. As a first step, I needed to access the device through the browser with an IP address & port number. You access a website where you plug in the number to customize your HaloLens.

The Development Tools
The tools you need are Unity for the 3D work (https://unity3d.com/) and Visual Studio 2015 for the compilation of the code and deployment.

I opened an existent application, built it in Unity and compiled/deployed it from Visual Studio. When compiling it, I had to look at the spot where I expected to see my hologram. Once the deployment finished, I disconnected the cable and I was free to move around with my hologram – a small race toy car. With a small tab in the air, I was able to move it around.

Space Recognition
HoloLens have space recognition- you see the space around so my car would fall from the edge of the coffee table and get stuck on impact with my backpack.

Building Apps
I started with a new project in Unity. Microsoft provided us with assets to use for the app. There are 3 main components/sensors you code for – gaze, tap and voice commands! We would add C# script for gaze, tab and voice recognition and attach them to objects.

Gaze
The little ring cursor will point at the object when your eyes/gaze reach the object.

Tap
The little tap with the index finger in the air will trigger a command.


Voice Recognition

I was able to implement in the code my personal commands. I was impressed how good the voice recognition was. It was easy to implement my commands for reset and drop the object. I think HoloLens actually interpret my accent better than the people around me.

The App
With the provided assets and code, my app had a small board with objects in it. There were two balls in the air that I was able to drop with a tap or a voice command. When the first ball dropped, an exposure would happen and the underground world would get exposed. I would place my gaze on the second ball and tap/give a command and the ball will drop in the underworld and I would be able to follow with my eyes the ball.

Interaction
I would be able to give my HoloLens to somebody else and they would experience my world. We were not able to interact with each other in one augmented reality. This functionality will be there in the future.

The Summary
When I saw the press release video from Microsoft in January, when I saw the demo at the keynote of //Build, my reaction was- no idea how this can be real. The experience with my hands on the HoloLens and the SDK surpassed my expectations by far! The augmented reality is very real, the HoloLens are comfortable and writing an app for HoloLens was not as hard as it sounds. I probably cannot explain the extent of my excitement and fascination. I have dreams now how to use the HoloLens, how to build apps for it. And after dreams and vision, now it’s the time to roll my sleeves and learn Unity…

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Step 1 to Start Developing for Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8

It’s the time of the New Year Resolutions and I want to start you on the one that will bring you prosperity and success!

Have you heard how exciting it is to be a Windows 8 developer? Have you heard you can reach 690,000,000 users and sell them your app? It’s the best opportunity for a developer out there. 40,000,000 users are already using Windows 8. There are 650,000,000 other Windows users that are moving or are expected to move to Windows 8.
Windows 8 Store
Do you know what else is exciting? It’s a new system, with new skills. You can be still one of the first Windows 8 developers out there.

Let’s start with the basics. Step 1.

If you don’t have a Microsoft account already, please sign up for one at:
https://login.live.com/

To develop for Windows RT (Windows Runtime) you need to develop on Windows 8.

You can work on a full version of Windows 8 Pro or you can download the 90 day evaluation version. I would choose the 64 bit version. (This way you can develop for Windows Phone 8 too!)

You need to download the SDK/tools (Visual Studio comes with Expression Blend).

If you cannot dedicate a machine to Windows 8, please read this blog post on how to install Windows 8 via boot to VHD.

Are you ready for more? FAQ for new developers.
Windows 8 Store
I hope you start today and I’ll be here to help you. I’ll be writing more blog articles for you with next steps.
Follow me on Twitter: @Nia_Angelina

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The Microsoft Store Field Trip – a Dream Come True

In June I wrote an article called I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip.
My daughter is in 5th grade and I have been on a field trip to the Apple store. I dreamed of a field trip to the Microsoft Store. My dream became a reality.
Let me tell you the most important part about the Microsoft field trip. It’s free, it’s educational and it’s cool! It’s beneficial too… the Microsoft Store actually gives back a total of $1,200 in free software.

9AM in the morning. 40 children and 3 adults. Excited and ready for our first Microsoft Store field trip. We went to Century City Mall (Los Angeles, CA). My daughter and I were the only ones on the field trip that have seen Windows 8 previously. We were the only ones that own / have seen and touched the Surface tablet. It was a whole group of eager minds ready to see what Microsoft has to offer. Your first experience with Windows 8 takes your breath away. It’s fast and fluid. It’s responsive and interactive. It’s beautiful operation system and it's cool. It's Windows reimagined.

Some kids asked me why they have games in the store. That simple question led to a great discovery. Almost everybody has heard or may be even owns an Xbox but almost nobody knew it’s a Microsoft product.

Just as the Xbox and the children, educators and professionals don’t know how much Microsoft has to offer. I don't blame them. When I looked online, I couldn’t find information about the field trips offered by the store. The Microsoft Store offers free field trips and workshops. We even received sponsorship for transportation to the store!

There are dozens 2-hour-minicamp workshops that the Microsoft Store offers (for free!). In addition, the Microsoft staff will work with you to customize the content to your needs. Our workshop was an overview of Windows 8, working with Office 2013 and exploring the Market Place (app store) on the Surface tablet. It was extremely beneficial for the kids to learn how to edit photos and make cool presentations.

This field trip to the Microsoft Store is something that every school or non-profit organization should know about. Microsoft offers not only free workshops but free space for events. This for up to 50 people. And listen to the best part- if you organize 10 events in one year, you will win $1,200 in software for your organization. I’m not kidding you. So what are you waiting for?

The staff in the store are friendly, professional and ready to help. They engaged the children with ease.
Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, the Surface and the Microsoft Store… This is news. Microsoft did amazing work. It's pure art but the art needs to be discovered by the community and the generation that will carry us to the future.

Apps like Bing Travel make it exciting and joyful to experience the World. It gives you 360 degree views of tourist attractions around the World. The kids turned and moved with the Surface tablets in their hands to explore Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Athens… I was surprised to find out even cities and sights in Bulgaria are in the Bing Travel app to be explored in 360 degree view.

We learned how easy is to create a high quality movie using Windows phone 8.

Our workshop lasted two hours. I wish we had more time to get to play some Kinect games on the big screen.

It's a super cool store.

The kids learned, they enjoyed, they got inspired. They are the future. It's a great formula- Microsoft educates them now and they bring future to Microsoft.

If you are interested in organizing a workshop or a field trip go to the Microsoft Store locator and find the contact information for your local store.
Are you a parent of school age children? You can help your child's classroom organize a field trip to the Microsoft store (just as I did).

Are you a teacher? Give your students the gift of knowledge and organize the field trip. Help your school get $1,200 in software.
Are you professional? Organize a workshop for you and the people you work with.
I'll tell you one interesting fact you didn't know before. The Microsoft store offers a free game camp for toddlers and you can bring the cupcakes and make it a birthday. You need to invite 10 toddlers and you have the coolest birthday party.

Every attendee received a Microsoft gift bag. There was a cup with the Microsoft logo in each bag and additional goodies. The bag itself is cool. What I love is that the cups are Made in US. What the kids love is that the cups are cool and useful. When we came back to the classroom all the kids were filling their cups with water and taking this with an additional sip of Microsoft koolaid.

I know how you feel. You are in disbelieve that so much can be offered for free. Let me tell you- I was there, I experienced and I still cannot believe it. It's that cool. The kids… they are different. They just accept it and enjoy it. Give them this gift- a field trip to remember and to learn from.
On one last note. The students had to turn in book reports a week later. Several of them used the Office skills they learned on the field trip at home on their own PCs to make their book reports shine.

P.S. Thank you for all the Microsoft people that made this possible and the elementary school teacher that helped putting it together.

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Binder full of Parties – The Build Conference

Do you think of the stereotype of a geek that doesn’t get invited to parties? Oh well, the most geekiest conference gives us a binder full of parties. I like to think I’m a veteran at attending Microsoft conferences but I’m being surprised by the jewel of the Microsoft development World- the Build Conference. I’m going to Seattle in 2 days and I have my binder full… of parties!

I tried to attend the Microsoft Build conference in 2011 and it was a lesson to learn. When the conference was announced, I submited my request to my manager and I waited for approval from manager after manager. It took several weeks. I was so proud and happy but it wasn’t for long. I was on the Build waiting list. I thought a waiting list is good, there is a chance. There was never a chance. Don’t believe a waiting list when it’s about Build.

This year I didn’t take any chances. I waited for the first sign of the Build conference- it was a message on Facebook with the date the registration will open. I didn’t wait for approval. On that date at 8AM I was on the website refreshing the page.

If I tell you Microsoft makes no advertisement, gives no details, puts a one form website and asks for $1,500 from the first 500 people and $2,000 from the rest and the conference is sold out in 40 minutes, would you believe me? There is more to it- you had to be very fast and persistent to escape the website errors and pay on time to secure your spot. So many people were registering at the same time, the website was erroring out constantly. I managed to get the early bird discount- and that’s early- it was sold out in 2 minutes! I was fast and furious and I learned from the previous year’s fiasco.

Do you know what amazes me? There is no session catalog yet. If you go to the website right now- you will see minimum information. And this was actually updated 2 days ago. You learn to be thankful if you know the address.

Let’s talk now about the parties. I won’t lie to you – I’m a reasonably looking woman and I actually get invited to a lot of parties for the sake of balance- the geeky crowd is mostly male. But this time I couldn’t rely just on my charm. Oh boy, I had to click fast and dig at twitter feeds.

Thanks to a friend of mine from TechEd I got to register at the Deep Fried Bytes BUILD Party at Lucky Strike.

For every hit you have a miss… I missed to register for the Build Blogger Bash Party. I still don’t know even the link for it. Ironically I’m writing in my blog about it.

There was an invitation for the Windows Phone Dinner Party sent to all the Build registrants. I was too slow and I felt very much uninvited. It’s these precious 2 minutes you have after the email hits your inbox. Blink and you are too late.

I really applaud DevExpress for posting their party on Twitter #bldwin. I’m going to DXTREME Party at //Build/ 2012 @ K1 Speed.

I managed to register for the Hackathon! It’s miracle in itself. It was the 2 minute rule.

I get to go to a dinner cruise because I’m extremely lucky.

There is the Build conference official party which is sold out too but at least every attendee gets to go.

I’m sure there are many more parties that I don’t have in my binder.

I miss something big from the Microsoft TechEd Conference. I’m a proud member of theKrewe. At TechEd we have an amazing leader Michael Bender who organized a support structure around the conference party system. #TheKrewe is an open group of people that makes you feel part of the conference networking system (the parties). TheKrewe keeps you updated on parties and you never have to feel alone.

The bottom line here is… I’m packing for Seattle. I have a binder full of parties and I think most of the Build attendees do too. I guess only the organizers at this point have a binder full of sessions.

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I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip

It was at the start of the school year when my daughter went to a field trip to the Apple Store. I happened to be one of those lucky parents to accompany the class. I couldn’t help but admire how smart is of Apple to open their doors to the future buying force. It was 10AM when we arrived. The kids were given yellow t-shirts and split in teams of 4-5 kids and the fun began. One Apple store employee was designated to each team- they took videos of the kids doing faces, poses and having fun… on an iPad.
Than the iPad was connected to a Mac and using the Apple software there was a cute little trailer created. The movies were burned into CDs and each child was given a copy of their own team trailer. The kids were ecstatic. Every child wanted an iPad, a Mac and Apple video software. I saw a parent buy right there on the spot a Mac. This is a level 1 dangerous-to-the-rest-parent. I heard Mommy, I really want to make videos. I really need a Mac.

And the Apple store offers these field trips to elementary schools all the time- our school takes the students every year… this is a great cultivating experience. Children embrace technology and they will be soon of age to buy. You have the cool factor working too.

I have a dream… I want a Microsoft Store Field Trip. I want Microsoft to invite elementary school children and spoil them the way Apple does. I will sign up for this field trip, I will take photos and I’ll probably be a level 1 dangerous-to-the-rest-parent :)

P.S. By the way, I’m ashamed to say but I still haven’t visited a Microsoft Store myself. Waiting for the field trip.

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