Microsoft has selected the first three UK partners to join its dedicated HoloLens partner programme and speed up adoption of the mixed-reality headset.
London-based Fundamental VR, Bradford-based Black Marble and St Albans-based REWIND have all been added to the HoloLens Agency Readiness Programme which is designed to help businesses build content and integrate the HoloLens into its operations.
The programme previously had 10 partners and served only North America, but the UK firms have now been added along with Germany's Zuhlke, and France's Holoforge and Immersion.
The three UK partners will develop content for the HoloLens headset, having previously done so for medical institutes and police forces in the UK.
Microsoft launched the HoloLens in the UK last October, and the product was met favourably by partners.
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.
"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 ecosystem is thriving around HoloLens, enabling more customers than ever to create HoloLens solutions, and we're excited to look to the future in anticipation of what mixed-reality innovations will be created next."
Jonathan Wagstaff, UK country manager at analyst Context, said that HoloLens is increasingly becoming an opportunity for the channel, particularly in the education sector as universities start to look at virtual and augmented reality.
However, he said that while the education, construction and medical sectors are looking at virtual reality (VR), sales into other markets might be more difficult if the end users have never considered VR to be useful for them.
"I suspect that the kind of people buying it will already have a use in mind," he said. "At this stage it's unlikely the channel can go to a bank and say 'you should buy HoloLens'. It's not the easiest thing to push on a customer that might not have the use of that technology, just because of where we are, and the fact that it requires developmental expertise to use it - you don't just plug it into your PC and play with it.
"Some of the very early adopters of VR, going back decades, were universities and universities will often have procurement in place via the channel with corporate resellers and distributors, so I would imagine that those departments looking to spend [on VR] will probably go to their existing channel partner."
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