Microsoft gears up to roll out HoloLens beta kits, Actiongram mixed-reality videos

Microsoft is working on a HoloLens mixed-reality video creation app called Actiongram, and may launch a Bluetooth clicker for the device, according to newly revealed closed-beta documents.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality goggles are already in the hands of a group of private beta participants. And those in the program are working on creating mixed-reality videos using a new Microsoft Actiongram app, due to be announced February 29.


Those new tidbits about Microsoft's HoloLens are courtesy of documents discovered by the infamous Microsoft sleuth The Walking Cat on Twitter. The Cat discovered a bunch of new HoloLens public relations and beta assets for Actiongram, a k a "Project Burbank," and made them available for download, even though Microsoft has since pulled them from public access.

Microsoft officials had previously said they'd begin shipping out the $3,000 HoloLens dev kits to developers in the first calendar quarter of 2016. One of my contacts said Microsoft told applicants that the first wave of "accepted" developers would be notified at the end of February of the kits' imminent arrival.

By getting HoloLens googles and an early version of the Actiongram app into testers' hands, Microsoft is hoping to get the Actiongram app in shape for a February 29 reveal, according to a leaked internal schedule. (Microsoft filed for the Actiongram trademark eight months ago.)

The aim of the Actiongram videos that testers will create using the app "is not to review the product," according to Microsoft's guidelines, "but to showcase and document the unique process of creation."

(I'm thinking the Actiongram-created videos might look like some of the promo videos Microsoft employees began highlighting via Twitter late last year. But maybe we'll see more than just those kinds of videos from the closed beta participants.)

Closed Beta 1 for Actiongram began in early February and will last through March 31, according to Microsoft's schedule. A second, larger closed beta will run from early April until late May. And an open beta for the app will run from June through the end of October 2016.


In a video targeting Actiongram creators, Microsoft provides a glimpse of the HoloShell Start Menu in action.

The leaked documents also mention a Bluetooth clicker, which should be a great asset for those who find air taps difficult to master and tiring to repeat. (Yay for mouse-like devices prevailing in natural user environments!)

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