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Unity Technologies details its partnership with Microsoft HoloLens

Unity 3D is one of the most powerful cross-platform games development engines available today, powering dozens of experiences from Xbox One to Windows Phone.

During the Build 2015 keynote, it was revealed that Unity 3D is partnering with Microsoft on HoloLens development, and the development team have recently confirmed on their blog that HoloLens will enjoy full support from the Unity engine.

Holograms for all! We've expanded our strategic collaboration with Microsoft to include full support for Microsoft HoloLens holographic computer. Microsoft made the announcement today during the keynote at the Build conference in San Francisco.

Unity 3D not only powers games, but 3D modelling for all sorts of virtualised products, albeit previously confined to screens. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the 3D experiences we saw at Build today were in-fact running on Unity.

Unity tools will support HoloLens spatial mapping, audio, gaze, gesture, voice recognition, and app anchoring - such as pinning Netflix onto your walls. The company also touts improvements to the integration between Unity and Visual Studio, to improve efficiency when it comes to creating non-gaming 3D experiences - presumably like the medical models seen in todays presentation.

Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Marketing exec Yusuf Mehdi praised the partnership:

...Expanding our relationship with Unity Technologies was a natural next step in bringing content to Microsoft HoloLens. We are very excited to unveil this partnership and look forward to the possibilities it will open for developers creating experiences for Microsoft HoloLens...

Unity's VP of Strategic Technology Steffen Toksvig touted the range of sectors Microsoft are targeting with the exciting new tech:

...Microsoft HoloLens unshackles game and app designers from traditional screens creating a freedom to completely reimagine how we view and interact with information, education, entertainment, creative tools, social networks, remote healthcare and more...

Unity for HoloLens will be bundled with Unity Pro and Unity Personal Edition for free, and considering ID@Xbox games developers get these toolsets for free as well, that's already dozens of potential games developers for Microsoft's fledgling holographic platform.

The range of applications for HoloLens is staggering. Beyond industries like architecture, engineering and medicine, HoloLens will also be making its presence known at the games industry's biggest event - E3, and with Unity's backing, there's certainly a lot to look forward to.

Be sure to check out the full blog post here.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

14 Comments
  • MS has indeed changed. Old MS would be touting DirectX 12 as the future of hololens. But if history is of any indication, MS will somehow make developers to switch to DirectX after the device becomes mainstream
  • Agreed. Microsoft is just getting better and better. Although HL is developed way long before he's in charge, he makes the right choices on how to publishes it.
  • +640 xl
  • I thought DirectX and Unity complemented each other, not competed with. Unity is a game engine used to create videogames, right? And DirectX are the APIs used to program games. At the Windows 10 briefing in January, Phil Spencer said that Unity is going to add support for DirectX 12.
  • DirectX is an API for creating media. It isn't for programming games. It is the common level for outputting 3D graphics or sending sound to the system. XNA was an API for programming games. C# or C++ were used to actually do the coding of those games.
  • You got the wrong idea about DirectX, it is not a game engine. It's a graphics API. Which is used in Unity too.
  • Yeah I get it. I know DirectX is more low level and gets close to metal and unity uses DirectX but my point was old MS would stressed for devs to use DirectX to create games too making them do extra work instead of promoting unity. I'm glad MS is letting unity into hololens ,not just third party apps but also third party APIs which is pretty cool
  • Hololens, as a tool with multiple applications and the backing from businesses like Unity will hopefully bring this breakthrough device to mainstream market appeal swiftly.
    The diversity of applications of this device are amazing! I'm looking forward to developers taking this opportunity and running with it. Microsoft is indeed cool again.;-)
  • The example of exploring the human body for medical education is such a great example of how this technology can "change things."   I really am excited to see how this pans out in education, business, and entertainment (line-of-sight restrictions not-with-standing).
  • Build attendees can no longer register for HoloLens event... that was durring //Build/ only... and was awesome BTW :) 
  • Fixed, sorry about that. :O Did you go? How was it?
  • As a teaching tool this is going to awesome. There is so much potential for virtually any field of work or study.
  • Unity is a cool game engine company, smart company supporting whatever new technology without questions or excuses, they just do it. it would be nice if more games, especially AAA, not only being big on mobile platforms. 
  • can't wait to get my hands on it...