Microsoft has announced the Hololens 2 and it’s aimed firmly at business. The long-awaited next-generation augmented reality headset was launched at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona.
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.
The new Hololens 2 boasts a field of view that’s more than double that of the first-generation HoloLens. It’s approximating 2,000 pixels per eye while still maintaining the original’s pixel density.
Microsoft has enabled instinctual interaction there is eye tracking to see where you are looking, voice and it has ten-point touch interaction where it recognizes each finger on your hand and will adjust the size of your hand in the digital world to improve accuracy.
A new UI model that allows users to interact with buttons and for holograms to follow the user.
We like that the eye tracking allows you to scroll websites naturally just by looking, in the past you had to move the cursor with small movements of your head. You’ll be able to highlight text just by looking at it.
The field of view has also been improved the first generation Hololens had 50-degree FOV where this generation has about 100-degree FOV. The FOV maintains the same 47 pixels per degree resolution as the first generation, this is why the 2K MEMS display is key in Hololens 2.
Improving the quality of the things that appear in your field of view will be getting a boost. An Azure-powered service called Remote Rendering, which will serve as a sort of external GPU of sorts for the HoloLens 2. Remote Rendering will be able to process holograms of up to 100 million polygons, as opposed to just 100,000 polygons by the native hardware. We don’t have any more details on how this will work and what type of development will be needed to integrate its capabilities, however, it is an announcement full of potential.
HoloLens 2 also includes an improved method of interacting with the world, via your hands. The first-generation HoloLens used environment-scanning, front-facing cameras to track your fingers as you made “air clicking” gestures with your index finger. With the HoloLens 2, all ten fingers are tracked, letting a presenter play a virtual piano.
Speech recognition is still available, too. While the first-generation HoloLens used voice controls as a supplement to air clicking, it appears that dictation will be fully supported as a way of interacting with HoloLens 2 content. We didn’t see Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant within the HoloLens 2, but we can assume she’s there.
Microsoft discussed several business applications from their partners, but the one that we got most excited about was Epic Games chief Tim Sweeney. “Could this be Fortnite for Hololens 2?” Very quickly the single consumer-focused hope was squashed. Sweeney appeared on stage to announce the porting of Unreal Engine 4 to the HoloLens platform. He followed with a quick clarification that he wasn’t there to announce any specific game title and he didn’t discuss any upcoming augmented-reality strategy.
Microsoft chose to show off solutions that could be used by healthcare, manufacturing, and mechanics. Apps like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guldes is a rather bland name for the ability to receive remote assistance from a skilled worker, via HoloLens and Skype.
We’ll be stopping by the booth to check out their demos so be sure to check back to see the new Hololens 2 in action.