HoloLens or ARKit?

by | Sep 29, 2017 | AR, Software

I have spent several hours using the HoloLens and it is a great piece of technology but it has a couple key flaws that makes me hesitate to use it moving forward. It’s a 2 year old device and in today’s tech world that is an issue as new updates are happening in short iterative cycles and the HoloLens seems stagnant. Rumours say that the next version of the HoloLens won’t come out until 2019 and that the dev team skipped version 2 to target their version 3 plans. Something must have cause a major issue and Microsoft announced a custom AI chip for the HoloLens in development last month. The field of view is also a show stopper as it is only an effective 45 degrees and requires the user to move their head a lot for full room/space interaction. The number of HoloLens apps available from the Store are also telling. Discussing with Christian he commented, ‘Where are all the apps after 2 years?’.

ARKit is the new SDK on the block and also has its limitations but it also offers some fairly major advantages. All iOS 11 devices with A9 processors and up can run ARKit. That is a global footprint that can’t be overlooked. Established and well used App Store and delivery is key. I have questions about how it integrates with other dev tools beyond Xcode but from my investigation Vuforia, Unity, Unreal and other AR focused authoring applications have quickly added support or are in the process.

The key difference between HoloLens and an ARKit device is the ability to accurately scan the space for object interaction and head mounted display (HMD). HoloLens wins out of the box but it won’t be long until Apple announces an iOS HMD; possibly in the next year or two. I am going to proof out an iPhone 8 in and HMD using pass through video and possibly a stereoscopic view to see if it meets my vision for what AR should be like in the interim. HoloLens also has voice and gesture recognition and ARKit devices offer alternatives that are yet to be proven. ManoMotion looks promising and I have requested access to their SDK and SIRIKit or Google Speech Cloud are options as well. Another positive thing about pursuing ARKit development vs HoloLens is that I can try it first in the handheld arena and probably take it to an interim HMD or full fledged in the near future before HoloLens is even in version 2.

I’m upgrading my iPhone 6 to an 8 Plus this weekend. My ARKit adventure is about to begin!