Microsoft HoloLens 2: AR is here, but who should own one?

07/06/2019     Author: Armand Richardson

Microsoft HoloLens 2 is a step towards a richer and more exciting world. Leaders in augmented reality, check out what it’s all about.

Augmented reality is literally the augmentation (improvement) of our reality with graphics and sounds to enhance our experience.

Many would argue that AR is not as exciting as it’s cousin VR, which lets you immerse yourself in completely alternate worlds, but if you take a step back to realise its implications, it’s infinitely more alluring.

Why? Because AR brings aspects of the virtual world into your natural reality. For practicality, this is key. But more than this, because AR superimposes layers of graphics on top the natural environment, our world becomes richer with information and vastly improved. VR on the other hand, as amazing as it is, forces you to block out the external world to experience it (desired by some).

There are different types of augmented reality, but holograms are at its core. And one headset in particular is making crazy headway in the realm of AR – Microsoft HoloLens 2.

Improving upon nearly every aspect of the original HoloLens, this release has some mind-boggling features that give us a real glimpse into the future of these technologies. But, with a price tag that matches its impressive performance, it’s not for the skinny walleted man.

Not only that.

Microsoft HoloLens 2 isn’t for the consumer.

Which actually makes sense. You see, Microsoft have said that they want to focus on creating products that serve corporate and enterprise needs, and this fit’s their value proposition perfectly.

Regardless, it’s still a mighty cool piece if kit. Let’s take a look inside the Microsoft HoloLens 2.

Gnarly laser technology

Put simply, the go to way to project holograms into your reality is through lasers. HoloLens 2 uses lasers that shine into a set of mirrors that oscillate back and fourth as quickly as 54,00 cycles per second. This is what paints the display as it reflects off the mirror.

The waveguides are the pieces of glass that sit in front of your eye, which Microsoft have produced to be thinner and lighter than it’s predecessor HoloLens. This gives the user a much wider field of view, something that was an issue with the original version. You no longer have graphics cutting out of view as you turn your head.

The best part is, the waveguides don’t need to be measured to your head size. All you have to do is put the lightweight headset on and adjust the strap. It sits far enough to wear reading glasses behind them also.

A cool bonus feature is the cameras installed in the headset, which scan your retina to detect where you’re looking. This has some cool applications, like allowing you to scroll through down pages on your virtual desktop without using your hands.

Crazy comfortability

Yes, this augmented reality headset has vastly improved its wearability and comfort levels since 2016. Let’s start by going through the process of putting it on.

Place it on your head like a cap, twist the know at the back to tighten. You’re done. You can literally start seeing holograms after these two steps. It’s a no fuss, simple process. The headset is significantly lighter, more comfortable and designed to fit heads of all shapes and sizes.

This is vital if AR technology is really going to take off, especially in the consumer sector. People want to enjoy augmented and virtual reality for hours at a time.

Plus, if you want to indulge in the world of the living without removing your headset, just flip the visor up to switch between realities effortlessly.

A corporate tailored product (for now)

As of now, the HoloLens 2 is only being sold to corporations. Disappointing for any rich kids that wanted to get their hands on this.

In retrospect, this is a smart move by Microsoft. AR technology is extremely powerful for the learning curve that comes with highly skilled professionals doing hands on work day to day. To be able to visually conceptualize elements in real time, like the bolts of a jet engine or the intricacies of a heart surgery though AR will improve these processes drastically.

This strategy is also partly down to the fact that Microsoft believe this technology isn’t ready for the consumer market yet. Alex Kipman, technical fellow at Microsoft said this:

“Why is it not a consumer product? It’s not as immersive as you want it to be. It’s more than twice as immersive as the previous one, but still not immersive enough for that consumer off the street to go use it. It’s still not comfortable enough … I would say that until these things are way more immersive than the most immersive product, way more comfortable than the most comfortable product, and at or under $1,000, I think people are kidding themselves in thinking that these products are ready.”

There’s no doubt this will one day hit the consumer market, when the technology is ready. For now, I’m happy to wait until it’s truly perfected to maximize the experience.

The bottom line

The HoloLens 2 price tag sits at a pretty little $3500 and was released on February 24th to the world. And while we don’t quite have access to this tech as the average Joe, it’s exciting to visualize the impact it will have on our future.

Augmented reality will change the way we live, work and play. It’s applications are endless, and most importantly will enrich and improve our world as we know it.

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