Setting up Your Headset
By now you’ve probably opened up your Acer Mixed Reality headset box and are ready to jump into development. There are a number of blogs and articles which have covered the specs, setup, and first impressions of these headsets. However, there is very little in terms of Acer Headset Mixed Reality Development. I’d like to remedy that with this guide. First, this blog by Microsoft MVP Simon Jackson may be helpful for developers looking into the process from out of the box to development. This blog covers most intro questions and how to setup and use the device.
Now, I would like to add a few notes from my experience with the Acer mixed reality device, as it exists at this point in time. All of this may change with the next release.
The headphone jack for the device appears to be Audio Out only, right now despite the Microsoft store stating otherwise. To use Audio, your headphones/mic should be plugged into the pc running the device to avoid issues.
That Microsoft store page also lists system specifications for the developer edition, so you should take a look at the recommended minimum specs to run the CPU and GPU. I would recommend the following specs:
- Processor: Desktop: Intel Desktop i7 (6+ Core) OR AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (8-Core, 16 threads)
- Graphics GPU: Desktop: NVIDIA GTX 980/1060 | AMD Radeon RX 480 (8GB) equivalent or greater | DX12 and WDDM 2.2 capable GPU
Most mid to high end gaming rigs meet these requirements. However, if you develop on some generic i7 laptop with integrated graphics expect a fair amount of lag, FPS drops and jitters. Fortunately, these requirements are listed to be much lower for the consumer version set to release October 17, 2017. The consumer version therefore could run at the recommended level on most consumer laptops.
Building and Deploying Applications for the Headset
Using the Microsoft MRToolkit (formerly HoloToolkit) and U.W.P, you can build to any of the immersive headsets. So if you are a HoloLens developer, you can simply port over your working apps. That is assuming they don’t use spatial mapping, gestures or other currently unsupported features on the immersive headsets, in which case it will not cause build errors but those features will be lost. See this Microsoft [MR Development overview] for more details. However, actually deploying these is a little different than you would deploy to the HoloLens.
First you need to have all the developing requirements for immersive headsets, found here. Then you will need to add in support for Bluetooth/motion controllers to your project for an input device. From there, you can build from Unity to Visual Studio as normal, and then choose one of the following ways to deploy the app:
- Set the target to the local machine and begin the build. Once done, this will start the application and place it in the mixed reality app menu as a launch-able app.
Pro: This is simple
Con: I have experienced problems with the deployed app refusing to close and locking up my input. I have found the second option much more useful.
- Create an appx package like you would deploying to the store, by following the steps on this page. Note that for testing you don’t need to build it for the store or validate in any way. You then need to side load the package, which you will do through your PC’s device portal. If your device portal needs setting up you can check this page, otherwise the Apps Manager tab will let you select packages to add and remove on the PC. Once added it can be launched from within the MR app for testing. Note that new versions can’t be installed until the old one is removed.
Pro: This allows you to take the package to other computers for easy sideloading, and gives greater control over the installed app.
Con: This adds an extra step, though it is simple.
Now you’re ready for Acer mixed reality development. Be wary of updates to Windows 10 creators update and unity 2017.2 beta until official versions are fully released. These beta versions can (and frequently do) break each other.
I’d like to include a list of the issues you might face upon beginning Acer mixed reality development, because there are quite a few. But I haven’t worked out all of the solutions yet. Please look forward to a more in depth look at solutions in one of our future blogs.