So finally it was here. The glorious first day of Build. The start to what could only be something spectacular. We were lucky as students to be given special seating at the front and next to the journalists during the keynote. To ensure our seating we had to be there for 7:45. Which is fine. That’s almost 4 in the afternoon in the UK and as a student about the time I get up anyway. The keynote hall was huge. Considering it had to seat thousands I’m not surprised…
We managed to get seats fairly close to the front compared to some. We were only about ten from the front. Funnily they seated all the students and Regional Directors together. I didn’t mind though as it meant I could sit with my father through the keynotes. The keynote was excellent and fun to watch. Bryan Roper did an amazing piece on new parts coming to Windows 10 with inking and Cortana. Then we got the lovely announcement that every Xbox One would be able to be turned into a developer kit for free from that moment on.
Then it was Hololens news with the announcement that they would begin shipping dev units out. I’m just now biding my time until I can get my hands on one. Cool demos were shown on stage and students studying medicine showed how Hololens could be used to help their studies of anatomy and save on time understanding layouts of say the brain. I think that this is a fabulous use of technology. Yes its cool its fun its shiny but it is being used to make a difference in our society. Then Hololens and Nasa news which as a keen astronomer and programmer I would argue as one of the best parts. The announcement of Destination Mars had everyone excited and cheering. Especially as they walked through parts of how they did it, had Buzz Aldrin as a 3-D guide during the experience and that it would be available to have a go with at the Kennedy Space Centre from the summer.
I was thrilled when I tweeted out saying I couldn’t wait to have a go and I got a reply from Kennedy Space Centre saying I should visit and have a go. Now it would be just plain rude to turn down such an offer. I just need to convince my parents to take me…..
More from Cortana with more bad (amazing) jokes.
Then it was all about those bots as we were introduced to these intelligent, machine learning pieces of software that are able to be embedded in any app that requires one. On stage we saw a demo of a pizza being ordered and sent out for delivery all through the use of bots. It was even able to be programmed and taught to understand slang words such as ‘crib’. The most incredible part was when they showed this video. The applause and response from the crowd was outstanding. Microsoft have created something that can allow an otherwise allow a blind man to be able to see the world around him. Every single person left that keynote feeling pride in the fact that they worked with Microsoft and it really couldn’t have set a better tone for the rest of the conference.
Us lucky students then had a lunch talk put on for us by Scott Hanselman whom last year I actually interviewed about the fun things around Build. He gave a delightful talk about what he does and some of the great things technology can do. Like a robot that can help you argue on the internet. I suppose leaves you to do other things? Students freebies in hand we headed to the exhibit hall to have a look around. Especially compared to last year there seemed to be so much. Whereas last year the exhibitors were spread out in the open spaces on every floor this year they were all in a large hall allowing you to explore. Towards the back of the hall they had set up mini stages that had people giving only 20 minute presentations on a variety of things. As I was running around meeting people I found this excellent as I could still catch some sessions.
I listened to some interesting sessions including one on Unity where the presenter game up and running in his thirty minute slot and one talking about the Windows Insider Program. Though seats were limited at these pop up theatres which meant you were usually standing or on the floor. Especially at the more popular ones.
I was then lucky enough to receive one of the golden tickets
Ok so its more of an orange but its close enough. Located at the back of the expo hall was the Hololens demo experience. Upon acquiring a ticket and arriving with plenty of time to spare just in case you join the back of a line to have a go at the Hololens demo, Destination Mars. When its finally your turn you get to watch a short intro video about what Destination Mars is about and how they got there. We went in the room in groups of eight and first had to measure the distance between our pupils to make sure that the experience was at its optimum for us. We were then taken to the Hololens where we then put them on. I must say I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. I had some mild trouble regardless of help getting the device to not slip on my hair and to not occasionally knock my glasses forcing me to readjust both them and the Hololens. That aside once the device is on and secure, using a 3D model of Mars in the middle of the room to help you adjust the right place for your Hololens, you are lead into a large room where the experience really gets going. After a moment Buzz Aldrin pops out of one of the corners of the room talks to the group about Mars before exclaiming ‘Lets go to Mars!’ Where the landscape suddenly transforms into that of the red planet. He tells you to look around and see what you can see. The view with the Hololens is only actually about the size of a postcard so around the sides you are still able to see the room that you are in. As you move around though you are encouraged by Buzz to look out for any arrows that appear anywhere in your vision. Following the arrows lead you to an interesting part of the surface of Mars for you to learn more about. For example I was looking up at one point when an arrow appeared encouraging me to look at the ground around me. There the ground started to transform to show me how erosion had taken place on the surface with audio in my Hololens explaining what was going on. We moved to another area of Mars where we saw a to scale model of the curiosity rover and we got to hear more facts about that as well. The audio in the Hololens worked marvellously with it being loud enough that you could hear it very clearly but not so much that you could hear other peoples. After another couple of minutes the experience came to an end and we handed in our hololens. Darn… As I said before the Hololens for me kept slipping which meant after some use I started getting a mild headache but honestly I think I just needed to secure it better as my sister had no problems with hers at all. Besides that it was amazing to be able to explore Mars in the way I did. It was fun and just delightful to see how the Hololens has come along. I can only bide the time till I get to have another go. On the way out they also let you pose with the Hololens and send a photo of yourself. Needless to say we took full advantage of this….
The future looks bright and Hololensy from where we stand. Onto Day 2!!!