Longtime Next Reality readers may remember my Wish List for Microsoft early last year. It was a post in which I put my head together with a number of other community developers to create a list of features that would make Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens better for developers. It would seem that one of the most sought-after features is finally here ... well, sort of.
The feature that was the most highly requested when polling developers for the Wish List post was "3D/live widgets." These are similar to the actively updated live tiles in the Windows 10 start menu but, of course, in 3D hologram form; The tiles could update news or weather information in real-time.
In a recent episode of "#ifdef Windows" on Microsoft's developer site Channel 9, members of the Windows Mixed Reality team revealed the process for developers to take 3D assets and create "3D Launchers " utilizing what is quickly becoming the go-to 3D file format in the AR/VR realms: GL Transmission Format (glTF).
Also included in the reveal was the release of the glTF toolkit, a C++ SDK with the ability to not only do the conversion during runtime, but that is also completely compatible with Universal Windows Platform (UWP). This means it should work on any Windows 10 device.
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So while there is a level of disappointment that the live element has not been implemented yet, and even more disappointment that there is currently no mention of adding similar functionality to the HoloLens, at this point, we know Microsoft is aware that these are sought after features. In fact, the company told me so personally when they confirmed they had passed our wish list around the office. If these features and compatibility options are in the cards, we'll just have to continue to wait until they become a priority.
In the meantime, for those who may be interested in getting started using this feature on the WMR immersive headsets, Microsoft has released a list of best practices for 3D app launcher design, 3D modeling, and exporting, as well as integration in your application. The company also released a sample of the app launcher for Windows Universal, a tutorial on the process, as well as the avocado model that was used.
Until next time, have fun building the new immersive computing universe.