Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is now a reality and ready for preorder. After several years on the making, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the software giant unveiled the second generation of the (arguably) most advanced augmented reality (AR) headset in the world.
HoloLens 2 still shares some of the design characteristics from the original version, but the new version is smaller, lighter, and include some significant design changes. For instance, the headset is made of carbon fiber and the computing parts are on the back to make it more comfortable to wear, as the center of gravity is now in the middle of the head. Instead of the mounting mechanism available in the first headset, on HoloLens 2, you’ll find more padding in the front and back with an adjustable band to secure the device in your head.
It features speakers on the side, and you can lift the visor, just like a welding mask, to get to the real world without removing the headset. Also, the design is more comfortable to use if you use glasses.
Microsoft HoloLens 2 tech specs
This time around, HoloLens 2 uses a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor instead of Intel x86 processor. This means that the headset will offer better battery life, improved processing power, and faster wake time. However, Microsoft is ditching the LTE module, as the company reveals that this type of connectivity wasn’t popular in the first generation, and it only impacted battery life.
Also, the headset now features a new Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) alongside the Artificial Intelligence (AI) co-processor.
|Optics||See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)|
|Resolution||2k 3:2 light engines|
|Holographic density||>2.5k radiants (light points per radian)|
|Eye-based rendering||Display optimization for 3D eye position|
|Depth||Azure Kinect sensor|
|IMU||Accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer|
|Camera||8MP stills, 1080p30 video|
|Audio & speech|
|Microphone array||5 channels|
|Speakers||Built-in, spatial audio|
|Hand tracking||Two-handed fully articulated model, direct manipulation|
|Eye tracking||Real-time tracking|
|Voice||Command and control on-device, Natural Language with internet connectivity|
|6DoF tracking||World-scale positional tracking|
|Spatial mapping||Real-time environment mesh|
|Mixed reality capture||Mixed hologram and physical environment photos and videos|
|Compute & connectivity|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Compute Platform|
|HPU||2nd generation custom-built holographic processing unit|
Perhaps one of the biggest improvements in the second generation is the wider field of view. According to the company, HoloLens 2 offers twice the field of view than before, while maintaining the 47 pixels-per-degree of sight and providing 2K displays per eye.
In addition, the headset now offers improved anti-aliasing, which translate on much smoother content being projected.
Microsoft is also improving hand-tracking with a new time-of-flight depth sensor, AI, and semantic understanding, and eye-tracking sensors that allows you to manipulate holograms more naturally, which also means less learning curve to use the device.
The company is distancing the new device as a consumer product. Instead, it’s positioning it as a business headset. However, it doesn’t mean that future iterations will be available for regular consumers.
HoloLens is expected to ship sometime in 2019, it’ll be available for $3500, and you can preorder now.