At $3,500 apiece, Microsoft's HoloLens 2 may not be the transformational consumer device we were all hoping to buy. But the company addressed many of the shortcomings of the original HoloLens at the Mobile World Congress launch of the second generation, holding out hope that we may one day see a more consumer-oriented product. As Microsoft has signaled for several years now, HoloLens 2 is designed to work with its Azure cloud and business customers, complete with an intriguing new Remote Rendering technology that implies Microsoft's using the power of its Azure cloud to boost the HoloLens headset's image processing capabilities. Epic chief Tim Sweeney appeared on stage to endorse HoloLens and bring the Unreal engine to HoloLens beginning in May. He did not announce a HoloLens-specific game, though.
If you ask Alex Kipman to name the most significant advancement in the brand-new version of HoloLens, Microsoft's mixed-reality headset, he'll say the answer is yes. Kipman, Microsoft's technical fellow for AI and mixed reality, gets excited about "all of the things" in the HoloLens 2. When pressed, though, it comes down to three key improvements: It's more comfortable, it's more immersive, and it offers more out-of-box value than the first HoloLens. Kipman uttered this mantra--"comfort, immersion, out-of-box value"--frequently during my day-long visit to Microsoft's headquarters last month, like someone who had been well coached by his communications staff. Later, when an editor asked me what was new about the new HoloLens 2, I realized the mantra was still rattling in my brain, as though it had been transmitted through the headgear. The new HoloLens 2 is more comfortable than the first headset, and more immersive. Its diagonal field of view has more than doubled, with Microsoft wielding a new kind of patented imaging technology.
Mobile World Congress is a show primarily for phone announcements, but Microsoft used it to unveil its brand new augmented reality headset: the HoloLens 2. The new headset is sleeker-looking, more comfortable, and more powerful than the first generation Hololens that debuted in 2016. But most importantly, HoloLens 2 has a much wider field of view -- more than double the original HoloLens -- to enable more immersive mixed reality experiences. SEE ALSO: Huawei's Mate X is the most promising foldable phone yet Without a doubt, the extremely limited FOV was the original HoloLens' biggest weakness. And it looks like Microsoft's listened to all of our complaints. Alex Kipman, Microsoft's technical fellow for cloud and AI, said, "[It's] like going from two 720p [resolution screens] to 2K resolution in each eye."
This evening at a press event to kickoff MWC Barcelona, I had the pleasure of joining CEO Satya Nadella and Technical Fellow Alex Kipman onstage to talk in depth about Microsoft's worldview for the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. As part of today's press event, we also introduced the world to HoloLens 2. This is a tremendously exciting time for Microsoft, our partners, our customers, the computing industry and indeed the world. The virtually limitless computing power and capability of the cloud combined with increasingly intelligent and perceptive edge devices embedded throughout the physical world create experiences we could only imagine a few short years ago. When intelligent cloud and intelligent edge experiences are infused with mixed reality, we have a framework for achieving amazing things and empowering even more people. Today represents an important milestone for Microsoft.
Microsoft has taken the wraps off a totally new HoloLens augmented reality headset. The device, which comes four years after the original HoloLens launched, sports more comfortable carbon fiber goggles, smarter eye-tracking technology and easier controls that let users touch and manipulate 3D holograms. Priced at $3,500, it also comes at a discount to its $5,000 predecessor. But don't expect to get your hands on it anytime soon, however, as Microsoft says the HoloLens 2 is only meant for use by businesses, not consumers. The HoloLens 2, unveiled at the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference in Barcelona, is available for pre-order starting today and will begin shipping to buyers later this year.