🗣 Mixed reality smart glasses developed by Microsoft premiered in late 2019, as a successor to the piece of technology that debuted 3 years prior. The head-mounted device is designed to bring value into workers’ life, improving tasks carried out daily in various industries. From sales staff, teachers, to construction workers, employees on manufacturing plant floors – the possibilities are endless. One of the key areas to employ HoloLens 2 is advanced training using augmented reality, guiding trainees through digital workflows in their workspace. Despite being categorized by its creators as a mixed reality device, in fact, the wearable piece is more on the augmented than virtual reality side of polyplexity.
With 6 degrees of freedom and spatial mapping, HoloLens 2 is not just an entertainment device (however its motion-tracking technology is strongly connected with Xbox Kinect), but a trusty working partner.
The device is connected with the Microsoft Mesh platform for smooth collaboration in real-time and is backed by over 200 solutions delivered by the parent company. Entities like Airbus, Lockheed Martin, and NASA appreciate HoloLens 2, proving its usability for a demanding audience.
🗣 Microsoft HoloLens 2 is an untethered holographic computer. It refines the holographic computing journey started by HoloLens (1st gen) to provide a more comfortable and immersive experience paired with more options for collaborating in mixed reality. HoloLens 2 runs on the Windows Holographic OS, which is based on a “flavor” of Windows 10, that provides users, admins, and developers with a robust, performant, and secure platform.
- Visor. Contains the HoloLens sensors and displays. You can rotate the visor up while wearing the HoloLens.
- Headband. To put on the HoloLens, use the adjustment wheel to expand the headband. With the HoloLens in place, tighten the adjustment wheel by turning to the right, until the headband is comfortable.
- Brightness buttons. When wearing the HoloLens, the brightness buttons are on the left side of the visor near your temple.
- Volume buttons. When wearing the HoloLens, the volume buttons are on the right side of the visor near your temple.
- Power button. When wearing the HoloLens, the power button is located on the right side of the rear outer cover.
- USB-C port. When wearing the HoloLens, the USB-C port is located on the right side of the rear outer cover below the Power button.
🗣 To grasp the significance of HoloLens 2, it helps to know its origin. The earliest seeds for HoloLens were planted as far back as 11 years ago. It was borne out of Kinect, the Xbox peripheral product that used a variety of sensors to compute depth maps and recognize humans within its field of view. Kipman, Microsoft’s former technical fellow for AI and mixed reality, is credited with inventing Kinect, and in 2010, he began channeling some of the Kinect’s technology into a head-mounted holographic computer. It was known then as Project Baraboo, but it would later become HoloLens.
When HoloLens officially launched in 2016, it was a 1.3-pound head-mounted display with depth-sensing cameras and an optical projection system that beamed holographic images directly into your eyes. While wearing one, you might see anything from a floating web browser to a cartoon fish in a bathtub to a three-dimensional motorcycle—all while still seeing the real world around you. Or you might see a remote technician pop up in your eye frame and show you how to fix a light switch. It isn’t a consumer device now, and it certainly wasn’t then, but Microsoft was trying to show off a wide variety of applications that could be easily grasped by regular people.
The HoloLens was available only to developers when it first launched since Microsoft wanted to spur the development of new apps. (No AR or VR headset is worth the money without compelling apps; that was true then and is still true now.) Later that year, a version of HoloLens started shipping to any consumer in the US or Canada who had $3,000 to spend.
The first HoloLens wasn’t a “success” in the way that you might describe the success of other technology products, whether that’s based on sales, ecosystem lock-in, or pure cachet. In some ways, it wasn’t meant to be a blockbuster hit in a public-facing way. But it was the first mixed-reality wearable that ran on a holographic-specific operating system—and it wasn’t a pair of lightweight smart glasses. It was an untethered headset running Windows 10, which meant it was an actual working face computer.
Still, early customers had their complaints: It was heavy, it was unwieldy, it didn’t feel immersive enough. And Microsoft heard them, loud and clear.
🗣 When pressed, though, it comes down to three key improvements: It’s more comfortable, it’s more immersive, and it offers more out-of-box value than the first HoloLens
The new HoloLens 2 is more comfortable than the first headset and more immersive. Its diagonal field of view has more than doubled, with Microsoft wielding a new kind of patented imaging technology. It has an AI processing unit and now connects to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud services.
One of the most obvious updates to HoloLens 2 is its build. The first HoloLens was front-heavy, a whole bunch of components loaded onto your forehead. For this new version, Microsoft split up the pieces, positioning the lenses and some computing power in the front and moving the rest of it to the back.
Microsoft’s senior director of design, Carl Ledbetter, calls this a split-architecture design. It came loaded with its own engineering challenges because cables had to run between the front and back parts of the headset. These are now built into the arms of HoloLens 2. Ledbetter says this new form factor was critical to achieving a certain level of comfort and balance on the new model. “With HoloLens version one, there were just a lot of things we didn’t know we didn’t know,” Ledbetter says as he leads me around Microsoft’s Human Factors lab. “But luckily, since it’s been out there for three years, we’ve been able to talk to a lot of customers.”
🗣 When is Microsoft HoloLens 2 the best choice?
The device is a suitable piece of equipment for indoor procedures. HoloLens 2 is the right option for carrying out hands-on training in work conditions, supporting on-site workers by remote experts, and executing ad hoc maintenance and service tasks. The Microsoft-developed smart glasses allow for displaying tutorials and instructions right before users’ eyes, making them a suitable option for on-the-job training and onboarding. The Mesh framework enables shared AR experiences (also cross-platform), allowing users to collaborate freely.
Advantages of HoloLens 2
- Built with great attention to detail
- Iris recognition – doesn’t require typing in login and passwords
- Compatible with hardhats and operable in protective gloves
- Memory: 4-GB LPDDR4x system DRAM, 64-GB UFS 2.1 storage
- Camera: 8MP stills, 1080p30 videos
- 5-channel microphone with noise cancellation
- Eye and head tracking
- 1-MP Time-of-Flight depth sensor for efficient hand tracking
- 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking
- Windows Hello authentication
The device is resistant to falling onto concrete from 2 meters and operates in temperature ranges 20 °C to 50 °C. HoloLens 2 is dust- and waterproof, but not designed to be submerged in water – the IP 66 rating means it’s resilient to powerful jets of water. Built-in spatial sound adds life to holographic models displayed before users’ eyes. The audio system mimics the way the human brain processes sounds, offering an immersive experience of the 3D virtual space. Users equipped with HoloLens 2 can pinch to grab 3D assets and use the Air Tap function to manipulate objects in the distance. Digital content can be launched with voice commands expressed in 7 languages. Voice operation works well and allows personnel to choose desired options without taking hands off of performed actions.
😁 As we continue to go over a series of headsets for different objectives you will be happy to know we have more to come. Stay tuned!