Mobile World Conference (MWC) is one of the world’s biggest mobile trade shows, and this year’s event in Barcelona, which ran from Feb. 25-Feb. 28, was no exception. MWC witnessed a lineup of products and announcements from mobile makers and manufacturers about their upcoming launches. While there were numerous announcements in the mobile arena at MWC, we have an out-of-the-box announcement in the form of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. The tech giant unveiled the second iteration of its standalone augmented reality (AR) headset —The HoloLens 2. It is a sleeker-looking, more comfortable, and has more feature-packed gear than its predecessor, the HoloLens.
For the uninitiated, the HoloLens uses a bunch of cameras and sensors to capture the environment around the user and projects holographic 3D images on top of the real world. Users can control and interact with these 3D holographic projections and carry out tasks or play games. There are several individuals and business-level applications of HoloLens and other mixed reality projectors such as real-time training, reports, and analytics, remote guidance, and prototyping.
Here is everything you need to know about this latest launch from Microsoft.
HoloLens 2 is much lighter than the previous model and the company confirmed that the device was made with comfort in mind. The headset weighs about 566 grams (about 1.25 pounds) and is built using carbon-fiber construction. Furthermore, the device comes with a headband that is well-calibrated for uniform weight distribution. Microsoft at the event mentioned that the HoloLens 2 is designed to be “more than three times” more comfortable to wear than the original HoloLens.
HoloLens 2 comes with a flip-up visor that makes it very easy to slip on. The headset can also fit over eyeglasses, which is certainly a huge advantage for the many users. HoloLens 2 also comes with an additional top strap that can be used for added comfort. This optional strap runs from the back to the head strap at the front for comfort as well as fit. The device comes in a single yet adjustable size, which can be easily adjusted using the adjustment dial provided.
Although the company did not give the exact resolution that HoloLens 2 sports, it has mentioned that the device comes with an equivalent of 2K display for each eye. The device is to offer 47-pixels per degree, which is referred to as “Retina Display,” as per Microsoft.
Although Microsoft did not reveal any official specifications, the company mentioned that the HoloLens 2 offers more than “double field of view” compared to its predecessor. HoloLens 2 also sports an aspect ratio of 3:2 compared to the 16:9 on its older sibling. Having an aspect ratio of 3:2 can arguably provide a better and squarer perspective as it can evenly distribute the frame objects of the vision.
HoloLens 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor. The device is also powered by Microsoft’s very own second-generation “holographic processing unit” as a coprocessor to handle all the sensor-related inputs. The device comes with a wide array of sensors and connectivity options.
HoloLens 2 is equipped with an Azure Kinect Sensor, which works with the 8-megapixel stills camera on the device to sense depth. The device also comes with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer for the inertial measurements. And it also comes with a five-channel microphone array to take audio inputs and uses spatial audio output.
As far as connectivity on the device is concerned, it supports USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, and 802.11ac 2x2 wireless connectivity. However, the device does not come with cellular connectivity options.
Microsoft during the launch demonstrated that the HoloLens 2 can track a user’s eyes with sensors located near the nose ridge of the device. The company says that the device can remember individual users and can retain individual user settings and preferences in case the headset is shared. The HoloLens 2 also comes with iris recognition technology, which can help users login to the device using Windows Hello.
Unlike most of the VR/AR headsets available in the market, HoloLens 2 does not rely on any external controllers. Instead, it depends on the hand and voice controls and gestures using Windows Cortana. Microsoft during the launch demonstrated this and claimed that HoloLens 2 can recognize 21 points of articulation per hand, which allows for accurate and more realistic hand motions.
Microsoft has made it clear that HoloLens 2 will be an “open” project. This means developers from all around the globe can contribute to the betterment of the device. Anyone can create an application for HoloLens. Microsoft has also announced a plethora of HoloLens applications that the company is working on. It also stated that they are working on developing applicationsthat will benefit many companies globally.
Although there is no real-time battery life information available about the HoloLens 2 yet, the company says that the device can last up to three hours of continuous usage on a single charge. But keep in mind that the real-time usage of the device might show slight deviations from what the company has projected.
HoloLens 2 is currently available for pre-order on the Microsoft’s website. The device will cost $3,500, which is less than what the initial version cost during its launch. The company also confirmed that it will start shipping the HoloLens 2 later this year. Microsoft also plans on launching the next generation of the HoloLens in a few years and claims that it will be even more comfortable to wear and will be more feature-packed than the HoloLens 2.
Mixed reality can be a game changer in the current IT world. With the immersive, ergonomic, and instinctual features offered by HoloLens 2, Microsoft can certainly have an impact at a global scale. And considering the fact that the project is going to be open source, we can expect further development down the line.
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