Microsoft HoloLens is getting ready to go to work in Europe.
The software giant announced today that six new companies had been accepted into the HoloLens Agency Readiness Partner program, joining 10 current agency partners located in the U.S. and Canada.
Partners receive hands-on training with the HoloLens team at Microsoft and build the expertise they can then use to develop mixed-reality experiences—Microsoft's take on augmented reality (AR)—for business clients.
On March 13, Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences, announced six more companies had joined the ranks. In the U.K., newcomers include Black Marble, Fundamental VR and Rewind.
Germany's Zuhlke and France's Holoforge and Immersion are also onboard. In North America, the partner program's roster currently includes Object Theory and Saab, among others.
"As part of their commitment, they have delivered real customer solutions for companies around the globe, like Paccar, Lowe's, Red Bull Air Race, CDM Smith, UK Police Forces, and Alstom," remarked Bardeen in a blog post.
"Working with one of our hand-selected HoloLens Agency Readiness Partners is one of the quickest ways to get started with creating mixed reality applications that can transform working with 3D data, bringing new products and information to life, and creating new opportunities for business growth."
Microsoft has high hopes for HoloLens in the enterprise.
The Windows 10-powered headset can overlay 3D computer generated images onto the wearer's physical environment. At $3,000, the device is quite an investment, but several features set it apart from the current crop of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which require that users plug them into a PC powerful enough to generate convincing 3D visuals.
For starters, HoloLens is completely self-contained. Users are completely untethered, free to roam around their surrounding without fear of tripping over a cable that's connected to a PC. And as part of Microsoft's Windows device family, developers can target the hardware with relative ease.
Microsoft envisions HoloLens powering a variety of immersive, next-generation workplace experiences that blur the lines between the virtual and physical worlds. Last summer, the company showcased a partnership with Japan Airlines that uses HoloLens to replace printed training manuals and documentation.
The companies developed two proofs-of-concepts, one for flight crews and another for engine mechanics. Using HoloLens, Japan Airlines hopes to turn information about flying and maintaining planes, which is typically contained in manuals and training videos, into muscle memory.
"Currently, flight crew trainees studying for promotion use mainly panels that display photos of cockpit instruments and switches to learn operational procedures in the early stages of their training," noted Microsoft New Center writer Suzanne Choney.
"Using HoloLens, they will have a detailed hologram in front of their eyes that will display cockpit devices and switches that they can operate themselves, with visual and voice guidance provided through HoloLens."