Microsoft’s second-generation mixed-reality headset is finally here — the HoloLens 2. Having taken an awful amount of time for Microsoft to make this new product, the HoloLens 2 does feature a number of significant improvements when compared to the original.
Microsoft claims that the headset is not only more immersive with double the field of view of the original HoloLens but is also more comfortable to wear courtesy of carbon fibre and better thermal management. There’s a dial for tightening the main headband, similar to PlayStation VR and the main visor can be flipped up when something else needs quick attention.
The company does not reveal numbers but for perspective, the jump in image quality here is equivalent to jumping from a 720 p TV to a 2K set for each eye.
Manoeuvring the HoloLens 2 is also much simpler now. The headset is capable of tracking your retinas to see where you’re looking which allows Microsoft to bake in support for Windows Hello authentication.
The headset also packs in a new “time-of-flight” depth sensor, a sensor we’re now beginning to see on certain smartphones. The sensor along with some software aid is able to track hand movements without the need of a controller.
The HoloLens 2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 chip as well as a custom-built Holographic Processing Unit. Audio input and output are handled by a 5-channel microphone array and a built-in spatial audio hardware respectively.
The mixed reality headset will launch later this year for $3,500, or as part of a subscription that includes Dynamics 365 Remote Assist (a diagnostic tool) for $125 a month. The headset will be sold in the US, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, the UK, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand.
So is the HoloLens 2 meant for regular consumers? Seemingly not. Microsoft’s target market here comprises of developers to experiment with and start building applications.