So the HoloLens 2 is out and I can now officially say, I’m impressed. Presented at the just concluded MWC 2019 in Barcelona, this device seems to be all and more than what Microsoft promised. With higher specs and a better design approach over the original HoloLens, this new generation offers not just fixes over the flaws of its predecessor but also includes features that were missing with the first.
But Microsoft has decided that the new HoloLens 2 will only be for the Enterprise space and only just very recently released the Development Edition. This is a pivot away from the otherwise consumer focus demos that Microsoft has shown in the past such as with its Minecraft demo.
Deep dive into Specs
Let us talk about the specs first, the new HoloLens 2 is running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Processor and a resolution of 2K 3:2 light engines in each eye, Holographic density above 2.5K radiants (light points per radian) while rocking wireless on the 802.11ac (2×2) standard and Bluetooth 5.0. for the wired connection. We have a USB-C Connector, then an 8MP stills with a 1080p video camera, 5-channel mics, Built-in Speakers, spatial audio, and it also has added features such as Eye tracking, head tracking, Windows Hello authentication, 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking. We don’t, however, know what the battery capacity or battery life of this device will be.
So what changed?
In the previous version of HoloLens, you could see a really limited square where you had to try your best to fit the hologram into. Even the smallest head movement would make the hologram go out of sight making it extremely uncomfortable to work with. But Microsoft has successfully overcome this with the new version of HoloLens. Now, the range of view nearly doubled making it much easier to perceive the virtual environment while objects are now closer than they used to be.
The control system has also been upgraded. HoloLens 2 went much further with the gesture manipulation allowing users to interact with the holograms in a natural way including resizing, scaling, grabbing, dragging or even holding. Not only is HoloLens 2 able to recognize your hands, but it’s also capable of tracking your eyes so that you can scroll text just by looking at the bottom of the page. Also, a voice assistant was implemented that provides a wide range of commands, not the least of which is ordering your browser to follow you as you navigate within the virtual environment.
These new HoloLens 2 features are making the first steps towards helping people to actually feel the mixed reality. Despite having pretty simple graphics and pixelate aesthetics, HoloLens 2 is a real breakthrough in the field of augmented reality for enterprises.
Also, the new version has a portable forehead gasket which makes HoloLens 2 more comfortable for everyday wearing. The gasket has a hygienic function too since it helps to hold the sweat and because the gasket is portable, it’s convenient to clean it regularly. Since this device is meant for the enterprise space, this little feature is a welcome upgrade.
What’s it going to cost you
The initial cost for HoloLens was between $3000-$5000 depending on the configuration but now the HoloLens 2 goes for a flat fee of $3,500 USD or $99/month for the development edition which is limited to one per user. This is still a far cry away from what we would consider as a consumer-oriented device and Microsoft has no intention of selling the HoloLens 2 outside the enterprise space.