Microsoft has announced a new version of its augmented reality headset during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 has a wider viewable area in comparison to the first generation headset, as well as a more comfortable fit. This should allow people to wear it for longer, with the previous model being uncomfortable for lengthy periods of use.
Microsoft was keen to push the capabilities of the new headset at its MWC launch event. It showed how users will be able to interact seamlessly with an augmented environment, demonstrating the pressing of virtual buttons, playing a piano, and watching a rendered hummingbird fly towards the wearer.
Fortnite developer Epic Games also confirmed that it will be supporting the HoloLens platform. It wouldn’t be drawn on whether it was about to announce a game or an AR strategy, but did confirm that it would support HoloLens 2.
The device will enable users to sign in via Microsoft Hello, and now features better eye and hand-tracking for further immersion into the HoloLens experience.
“When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on stage during its launch.
To create a new level of detail, Microsoft has updated the display technology inside HoloLens 2. What was essentially 720p for each eye in the first-gen has been upgraded to 2K in the second. This is while still expanding the size of the imagery you are looking at.
On the comfort side of things, the device is now lighter, as easy to put on as a baseball cap, and is made with carbon fibre.
HoloLens 2 will initially be available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand.
It is available for pre-order now at a price of $3,500 (£2,680). Bundles including Dynamic’s 365 Remote Assist start at $125/month.
Microsoft also launched a Kinect-like device that moves well beyond the original Xbox and PC experience. It is more “business focused”.
The new device comes in a developer kit that combines AI sensors in a single device. Using the same time-of-flight depth sensor developed for HoloLens 2, it enables solutions that don’t just sense environments but understand them – whether that’s a building site or something different.
Microsoft said that it is already testing its Azure Kinect device with hospitals and stores, helping them with tasks, such as being able to detect when people are about to fall over in a hospital room or improve self checkouts in shops. It could even be used in grab and go shopping solutions, such as Amazon Go.
Initially available in the US and China, the Azure Kinect DK is available for preorder today at $399.