.net, HoloLens, Unity, UWP, Visual Studio

Coding for the HoloLens with Unity 5 – Part #1: Setting up your environment

I’m starting a new series of posts on coding for the HoloLens with Unity. There’s relatively few posts on how to code for this device, and the ones that I’ve found so far haven’t been as complete as I’d like them to be, and this series will be part tutorial and part lab-notes for myself.

So far, I’ve planned for the first 3 posts in the series.

  • Part 1 – Getting started – downloading and installing the software;
  • Part 2 – Creating a project in Unity 5, and adding a simple object to a virtual world;
  • Part 3 – Deploying this project to the HoloLens emulator.

I’ll follow these introductory posts with some more complex and interesting projects.

Getting started – downloading and installing the software

You don’t need a physical HoloLens to develop software for the HoloLens (although it would help). You can develop your app using available tools, and test it on an emulator – as long as you have Windows 10 Professional. The reason for this is that the emulator uses Hyper-V, which is available on Window 10 Pro – it’s not available on the home edition.

Hardware requirements

There are detailed hardware requirements at this link – key requirements are a 64-bit CPU with 4 cores, 8GB of RAM, and hardware assisted virtualisation enabled in the BIOS settings – Microsoft provides a guide on how to do this here.

Software downloads

You’ll need to install 4 software components – VS2015.3, the HoloLens emulator, Unity 5, and the UWP runtime for Unity.

The first development tool you’ll need is the IDE – Visual Studio 2015, Update 3. This is freely available as the Community Edition. You can get this here.

Next, you’ll need the HoloLens emulator to test your apps – you can get the emulator here (v10.0.14342.1018). This is a simple executable, which will check to see if your computer is suitable for HoloLens development while it’s installing.

You’ll need two pieces of Unity software to develop and deploy using Unity 5. These are both available from the Unity site at this link.

  • The first item to download and install will be the Unity Editor for the HoloLens Technical Preview. There’s a special edition for the HoloLens, and you can choose to go with either a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version.
  • The second item is the UWP Runtime for Unity – this allows you to build your applications as a Universal Windows Platform application, which is necessary to deploy and run on a HoloLens.

You’ll need to register as a Unity developer, but there’s no charge for this if you’re using the personal edition option.

Next time I’m going to look at writing my first Unity 3d application, where I’ll create a simple object in a virtual world.