UK companies join special Microsoft HoloLens group that shows the world how to make the most of mixed-reality

Three companies in the UK have been chosen by Microsoft to help businesses use its mixed-reality headset to transform how they work.

Fundamental VR, Black Marble and REWIND have been added to Microsoft’s HoloLens Agency Readiness Partner programme, which has been expanded from the original 10 members to 16.

The three UK firms, from London, Bradford and St Albans respectively, join Germany’s Zuhlke and France’s Holoforge and Immersion as new entrants in the cutting-edge initiative.

They will use their skills in development and 3D art design to help companies across the world bring their products and information to life via HoloLens holograms.

Fundamental VR specialises in the healthcare sector, and is developing new simulations for pharmaceutical companies, equipment and device manufacturers, medical colleges and hospitals; Black Marble focuses on cloud-connected next-generation user experiences, from wearables to holograms, and has worked with police forces to produce holographic, virtual, mobile command and control centres, and to capture crime scenes so officers can revisit them using HoloLens; REWIND has worked with Red Bull Air Race to create an experience that gives fans a better understanding of the complex rules and regulations of the sport and get closer to the action.

A Fundamental VR spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have been selected as a HoloLens partner by Microsoft. The holographic platform offers exciting new opportunities in medical knowledge transfer that come at a time when the medical world needs to radically enhance the speed, accuracy and efficiency of that knowledge transfer.”

Truck, HoloLens

Virtual, augmented and mixed reality is becoming increasingly important to companies across the globe. According to market intelligence firm IDC, “worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 billion in 2020″.

Lorraine Bardeen, General Manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences, said: “As more companies begin to understand and deploy the benefits of HoloLens and mixed reality, it is important that we provide a broad set of choices to help IT departments build mixed-reality applications.

“The HoloLens Agency Readiness Partners have all gone through extensive, hands-on training with our team. Working with one of our hand-selected partners is one of the quickest ways to get started with creating mixed-reality applications that can transform working with 3D data, bringing new products and information to life, and creating new opportunities for business growth.

“The eco-system is thriving around HoloLens, enabling more customers than ever to create HoloLens solutions, and we’re excited to look to the future in anticipation for what mixed reality innovations will be created next.”

Microsoft’s programme has so far helped police forces across the UK to improve their operations, as well as train manufacturer Alstom, truck maker Paccar, home improvement business Lowe’s and engineering firm CDM Smith.

Rather than put users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows users to place 3D digital models in the room alongside them. As the Windows-10-based product does not have wires or external cameras, or require a phone or PC connection, users can walk around the objects they create and interact with them using gestures, gaze and voice.

It has been used by NASA to recreate Mars in its offices, allowing scientists to virtually conduct operations on the Red Planet. Audi, meanwhile, is using HoloLens to communicate with customers and help with engineering; while Saab has called it “transformational”.

The device was launched in the UK in October to coincide with its release in Ireland, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It is also available in the US and Canada.