We knew Microsoft was planning on announcing the HoloLens 2, but from the previous teasers, it was hard to tell exactly what we should expect from the sequel. The HoloLens has captivated us since its release, and it now looks like Microsoft has industry and business in mind with the updated version. And, you know, entertainment, too, but it’s the serious applications that have us most excited.
Through the MR-glass
At Mobile World Congress this week Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2, a next-gen ‘mixed reality’ headset that, according to its makers, is more immersive and comfortable than the original. This edition has more than double the field of view of its predecessor while maintaining the same 47 pixels per degree of sight. Say what now? In other words, you’re looking at resolution similar to a 2K monitor.
The headset can track your retinas to know exactly where you’re looking, which is likely why it’s being punted as ‘even more immersive’. This’ll give you the ability to look at the bottom of a browser screen, and it’ll automatically track the gaze and scroll down as you read. Alternatively, you’ll be able to linger on something with your gaze to get more information on it, or drill down further.
HoloLens 2 uses a new ‘time-of-flight’ depth sensor to track your hands without the need for controllers. You can use a single finger to punch buttons or navigate sliders, or even play individual keys on a piano.
As we saw with the previous iteration, Microsoft is targeting people who work in various industries with Mk II of the HoloLens. It’s obvious from the teaser video that they’re focused on streamlining repetitive jobs for people like mechanics and doctors. It could also be hugely valuable in training people in jobs where it’s inconvenient or downright dangerous to take your eyes or hands off the prize. This direction does make sense for Microsoft, as the price tag won’t appeal to the normal consumer. Unless you add some incentives…
Not all work
One of the most unexpected occurrences during the HoloLens 2 announcement, was the appearance of Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney. Although he didn’t exactly announce Fortnite-capabilities for the HoloLens, his appearance confirms that they’re likely working on an integration for future use with their Unreal Engine.
HoloLens 2 will launch later this year for $3,500 (close to R50,000). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing it sold locally (like every other piece of Microsoft hardware we want, including the Surface Studio and Surface Pro tablets). But with enough money, patience and/or luggage room, you’ll likely be able to import one.