Microsoft is making its wearable holographic headset-based computer, HoloLens, available for developers to pre-order.
The Redmond, Washington-based company's announcement means developers will begin to create real-life applications for HoloLens, representing a major step toward putting the augmented-reality headgear on the market.
The release of HoloLens to developer applicants represents a "monumental step forward" for the product, according to Alex Kipman, a technical fellow in Microsoft's Operating Systems Group, in a blog post.
HoloLens development kits will begin shipping in the US and Canada on March 30, and will cost US$3,000. International shipping dates were not revealed.
Microsoft will also release additional development tools, such as Visual Studio projects and a HoloLens emulator to allow developers to test holographic apps on their PCs, on the same date.
With HoloLens, which was unveiled a year ago during Microsoft's Windows 10 launch event, users can create and shape holograms with gestures, communicate with apps using their voices, and navigate with a glance.
The holographic headset is powered by processors such as central processing and graphics processing units, in addition to a Microsoft-developed holographic processing unit.
HoloLens does not need a connection to a PC or mobile device to function properly, said Kipman – a factor that separates the wearable from other headsets such as Oculus Rift. The device also supports Bluetooth 4.1, which enables users to use accessories.
"The future of technology will not be confined to just two dimensions – our future interaction with technology will more closely [mirror] our real world," wrote Kipman. "This is the first step in our journey to consumers. A step focused on our commercial partnerships and on supporting developers, who will help pave the way to consumer availability with amazing and new holographic experiences."
Virtual and augmented reality is an increasingly competitive market, as companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and Facebook prepare to release VR products to the market.