What just happened? We’ve known for a while that the latest iteration of the HoloLens headset is in the works. Now, Microsoft has taken the wraps off its “mixed” reality headset at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Promising more features, comfort, and immersion, the HoloLens 2 launches later this year for $3,500.
Wearing any VR or AR headset can cause discomfort after a few hours, but Microsoft wants to avoid this with the new HoloLens. It’s slightly smaller than the original and made entirely from carbon fiber, which reduces the weight. There’s also new vapor chamber technology that stops things getting too toasty, and a dial at the rear for adjusting the fit—you can even wear it with your glasses. Moreover, if you want to jump out of your mixed reality experience, simply flip up the front visor.
The first HoloLens’ field of view has been doubled in the new model while retaining the 47 pixels per degree of sight, which should make for a more immersive experience. Microsoft compares this to moving from a 720p television to a 2K TV for each eye. The Snapdragon 850-powered device also comes with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera used for video conferencing, and USB Type-C for charging.
Thanks to the new Time-of-Flight sensor working alongside its AI smarts, HoloLens 2 users can interact with holograms using hand gestures—wearers can use their fingers to 'touch' visual elements as they appear to float in mid-air. In a stage demo, we saw someone playing a virtual piano.
The device also features eye tracking that lets apps know where users are looking, and there’s Windows Hello iris recognition to make logging in easy and safe.
Like its predecessor, the HoloLens 2 is aimed at the enterprise market, but that hasn’t stopped Epic Games from announcing its Unreal Engine 4 will support the headset. “I believe that AR is going to be the primary platform of the future for both work and entertainment,” said CEO Tim Sweeney, which suggests we could see a mixed reality game from the Fortnite maker at some point in the far future.
The HoloLens 2 goes on sale in the U.S., U.K., Japan, China, Germany, Canada, Ireland, France, Australia, and New Zealand later this year for $3500. It’s also available as part of a $125 per month subscription that includes Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, which is used by HoloLens-wearing technicians to diagnose problems remotely.