Microsoft announced the long-awaited HoloLens 2 via tweet, an updated webpage over the weekend, as well as presented it during this week’s MWC Barcelona. It is currently only available for pre-order and Microsoft has not yet announced a release date.
— Microsoft HoloLens (@HoloLens) February 24, 2019
Microsoft released the original HoloLens almost exactly three years ago. It was a breakthrough in mixed reality technology but the field has advanced considerably since then.
So, what does the newer model bring to the table?
A Big Price Tag
Like the original HoloLens, the newer model is too expensive for most casual users. At US$3,500, it’s more expensive than the original model and most VR devices like Oculus Rift. The technology is primarily aimed at education and industry solutions including design.
As was the case with the original HoloLens, Microsoft does have options to make the newer model more affordable. You can pay it in implements of $125 per user per month.
Some New Software
Naturally, many of the improvements to the HoloLens 2 deal with optics. The model features an expanded field of vision and enhanced resolution. The expanded field of vision makes it easier to view larger models, or more models at once. Enhanced resolution means finer details and an easier time dealing with numbers and text.
Interacting with models is also easier than on the original HoloLens. Enhanced modeling technology and new gesture controls make the software more intuitive.
Many of the software updates also involve security. Users can sign into the HoloLens 2 using their eyes. Accounts are also more secure online.
One of the most intriguing lines in the new promotional material says that the HoloLens 2 works with “AI services online.” There is no additional info regarding which services or how they are compatible.
The headwear in the newer model has also changed. A larger but lightweight harness means better weight distribution than the simpler original design.
Microsoft also scrapped the removable battery pack for the HoloLens 2. Unlike the original HoloLens, this may mean that you can’t use it while it’s charging. It also means that the teatherless headset is completely self-contained.
Similar to the design of the original HoloLens, the newer model is made up of the harness and the visor. Fitting adjustments and the battery are located in the band, while most of the hardware is in the visor.
The design of the visor allows you to flip it up for quick and easy transition in and out of mixed reality. The visor is also specifically designed to fit over prescription eyeglasses.
The HoloLens 2 also uses voice commands through microphones designed to filter out ambient noise.
The next iteration of the HoloLens is more expensive than the original but it also brings many updates to the table. With affordable payment options and enhanced industry solutions, it should be worth the price tag.