Although I had heard rumors of the HoloLens 2 being in development and even potentially announced at MWC19, what Microsoft delivered was a full launch showcase of the headset and I am happy to report that things are looking amazing with the HoloLens 2. Having been able to use the original HoloLens for over a year, introducing it to clients and potential adopters alike, I have become an advocate for the potential of the technology and the HoloLens 2 does not disappoint on initial overview.
Microsoft held nothing back during their showcase segment at MWC, giving us a comprehensive overview of the technical specs as well as their plans for the platform moving forward. As expected, this is to remain in the enterprise application side of things rather than entertainment.
The price is as expected, at $3500 it sits itself nicely in comparison to its older sibling, as well as emphasizing its enterprise audience focus. Aligning with this enterprise focus, the new HoloLens 2 has been developed to work with Azure cloud services and business customer accounts, linking them all up with a helpful remote assistance technology which will boost the processing capabilities of the headset by a noticeable margin. Adding to this boost in performance, Epic Games also took stage to announce that the HoloLens will integrate the Unreal Engine platform, further pushing the image quality of the headset.
Another major improvement is in the HoloLens 2's input methods. Gone are the slow gestures of the original, with a new ten-point touch hand tracking interaction, allowing for a more realistic human-machine than is currently available with most HMDs. This was showcased through a virtual piano that could be played as if it were the real thing.
Not only has the interaction been enhanced, but so too has one of the HoloLens' former greatest downsides: its field of view (FoV). With a FoV boasting more than double that of the original HoloLens (at 35 degrees), it is now estimated to be over 70 degrees, with approximately 2,000 pixels per eye of detail.
Another change to the HoloLens is more of a software nature, with a much needed update to the UI. New, more complex interactions are now available, taking advantage of the new input methods from the hardware side.
The HoloLens 2's upgrades do not stop there, with component level improvements across the board (as was expected given the aging hardware of the original). Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 is running the show as the processor of choice for starters, managing 2K 3:2 light engines for each eye.
Eye tracking is also playing a part of the new headset, so no more awkward head movements to target or focus on certain objects within the headsets view. Gone are the need for standard password logins, with iris scanning now enabled for login, for greater security.
Finally, but no less important, is that the HoloLens 2 utilizes USB-C and although not stated, could be assumed that fast charge will be as standard as well. However it is noted that battery life was something that was not mentioned during the showcase, but it's suspected to be comparable or slightly improved over the original HoloLens at 3+ hours.
Like all new hardware there will no doubt be teething issues, but from what was explored during their showcase, Microsoft seems to have covered off as many areas of potential issue as possible. This even goes down to the simple issue of comfort, with Alex Kipman, inventor of the original HoloLens, going as far as to say that they have put "triple the comfort" into the new Hololens 2. That being said it is clear that Microsoft are taking this headset very seriously. They are taking no chances to ensure that it does what they claim and not fall into the trap that other companies have when building hype.