Microsoft HoloLens is an amazing and novel device that is at the forward edge of a major transformation in the way we do computing, both professionally and as consumers. It has immediate applications in the enterprise, especially in fields that work heavily with 3D models such as architecture and design. It has strong coolness potential for companies working in the tradeshow space and for art installations.
Given its likelihood to eventually overtake the smartphone market in the next five to ten years, it should also be given attention in R&D departments of large corporations and the emerging experiences groups of well-heeled marketing firms.
Because it is a new technology, there is no established market for HoloLens developers. There is no certification process. There are no boards to license people. How do you find out who is good?
There are two legitimacy issues currently affecting the HoloLens world. One is unknown companies popping up flashy websites and publishing other people’s works as their own and exaggerating their capabilities. The internet is a great leveler, in this case, and it is hard to distinguish between what is real and what is fake.
Another is established consulting companies that have decent IT reputations but no HoloLens experience moving into the market in the hopes that a funded project will pay for their employees to learn on the job. I’ve cleaned up after several of these failed projects in the past year.
How do you avoid bad engagements like these? Here are some guidelines:
1. Make sure the companies you are looking to work with can show original work. If their websites are full of stock Microsoft images and their videos show work belonging to other people without proper attribution, run like the wind.
2. Find someone with HoloLens experience to vet these companies for you. Go to the main HoloLens discussion board at https://forums.hololens.com/ and see who is answering questions. These aren’t the only people who know about HoloLens development, but they do demonstrate their experience on a daily basis for the good of the mixed reality community.
3. See who is writing apps for the HoloLens Challenge. This contest happens every three weeks and challenges developers to build creative apps to specification in a short time span. Anyone who does well in the challenge is going to do a great job for you. Plus, you can actually see what they are capable of. They are effectively posting their CVs online.
5. Look for companies and individuals associated with the HoloLens Agency Readiness Program or the Microsoft MVP Emerging Experiences group. These are two of the longest running groups of developers and designers working with HoloLens and go back to 2015. These people have been thinking about mixed reality for a long time.
There are several areas in which you will want HoloLens expertise.
A. You need help conceptualizing and implementing a large project.
B. You need help creating a quick proof of concept to demonstrate how the HoloLens can help your company.
C. You need individuals to augment or train your internal developers for a project.
The best people for each of these areas are well known in the relatively small world of HoloLens developers. Unfortunately, because HoloLens is still niche work, they tend not to be well known, with a few exceptions, outside of that insular world.
So how do I know who’s the good and the great in Mixed Reality? Fair question.
I’ve been working on HoloLens interaction design and development since the HoloLens device started shipping in April of 2016 and have been writing about it since 2015. I have close relationships with many of the big players in this world as well as the indie devs who are shaping HoloLens experiences today and pushing the envelope for tomorrow. I’ve been working with emerging experiences for the past half decade starting with the original Microsoft Surface Table, to the Kinect v1 and v2 (here’s my book), to VR and the HoloLens. I’ve taught workshops on HoloLens development and am currently working on a Lynda.com course on mixed reality.
The lists below are a bit subjective, and lean towards the organizations and people I can personally vouch for. (If you think someone significant has been left off the following lists, please let me know in the comments.)
small to mid-sized projects
360 World (Hungary)
OCTO Technology (France)
You Are Here (US)
Truth Labs (US)
Nexinov (Australia / Shanghai)
Thought Experiments (US)
Studio Studio (US)
awesome hololens / mixed reality devs
Bronwen Zande (Australia)
Nick Young (New Zealand)
Bruno Capuano (Spain / Canada – Toronto)
Kenny Wang (Canada – Toronto)
Alex Drenea (Canada – Toronto)
Vangos Pterneas (Greece / US – New York)
Nate Turley (US – New York)
Milos Paripovic (US – New York)
Dwight Goins (US – Florida)
Stephen Hodgson (US – Florida)
Jason Odom (US – Alabama)
Jesse McCulloch (US – Oregon)
Michael Hoffman (US – Oregon)
Dwayne Lamb (US – Washington)
Dong Yoon Park (US – Washington)
Cameron Vetter (US – Wisconsin)
Stephen Chiou (US – Pennsylvania)
Michelle Ma (US – Pennsylvania)
Chad Carter (US – North Carolina)
Clemente Giorio (Italy)
Matteo Valoriani (Italy)
Dennis Vroegop (Netherlands)
Jasper Brekelmans (Netherlands)
Joost Van Schaik (Netherlands)
Gian Paolo Santopaolo (Switzerland)
Rene Schulte (Germany)
Vincent Guigui (France)
Johanna Rowe Calvi (France)
Nicolas Calvi (France)
Fabrice Barbin (France)
Andras Velvart (Hungary)
Tamas Deme (Hungary)
Jessica Engstrom (Sweden)
Jimmy Engstrom (Sweden)