And it’s here. Microsoft has officially announced HoloLens 2 MR headset during this year’s Mobile World Congress. The device seems everything that we anticipated it to be, marking improvements across the board including perfecting the original HoloLens’ biggest trade-off. Let’s unpack it.
It was always going to be Microsoft, and it was always going to be HoloLens. The leading Mixed Reality combo has capitalized from years of feedback provided by the original headset to deliver this second iteration. Going solely by the Microsoft presentation of the product, years of improvements result in a headset with double the field-of-view, triple the comfort, eye and hand-tracking sensors, and a slew of additional features that workers will appreciate. Yes, workers, because HoloLens 2 MR headset is not a consumer product just yet. Businesses are the target, something that the price of $3,500 per piece surely reflects.
During its presentation, Microsoft displayed enthusiasm typical for these events. ‘HoloLens 2’, said a speaker, aims to change ‘the way work is done’. ‘It adapts to you, it adapts to your hands and goes beyond the gestures to give you the satisfaction of direct manipulation’. HoloLens 2 MR headset has vamped up controlling system to include your hands and everything you could possibly do with them in order to manipulate MR objects. With HoloLens 2, buttons are pushed, sliders pulled, or even piano played requiring dexterity that only individual fingers can provide. This highly intuitive interface control is possible due to advanced hand-tracking technology resting on time-of-flight depth sensor capabilities. Given that it is how we naturally interact, gestures require very little learning curve while ‘letting you experience for the first time what it feels like to actually touch a hologram’.
The biggest issue with the original device was not tracking, but rather fairly poor FOV. You could only look at object directly in front of your eyes. Microsoft paid attention, for HoloLens 2 MR headset more than doubles the FOV, resulting in a change comparable to switching a per-eye 720p TV set for a 2K set. Comfort-wise, Microsoft promises thrice the improvement, though is it dubious how they measured it. Nevertheless, the carbon fiber material is all new, leathery light, and a back-positioned dial for adjusting the headband tightness works. Other features worth noting are the welcome eye-tracking sensors and Windows Hello authentication.
As noted above, the price of $3,500 means that HoloLens 2 is made with enterprise customers in mind. Big businesses that have had a go at HoloLens will want to naturally progress towards a more accomplished device, but Microsoft is looking expand the network of users to all workers using mobile phones in their daily tasks. One way to cater to businesses is the ability to customize their HoloLens 2 like the Trimble construction site version. Ready for preorder, HoloLens 2 comes bundled with Dynamic 365 Remote Assist app.
‘When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see’. Let the words of the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hover over the HoloLens 2 MR headset announcement week. A device like few others, HoloLens 2 looks like an advanced, intuitive piece of tech coming in 2019.