Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality Device – Augmented Reality Headset

Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality Device – Augmented Reality Headset

Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset, which was introduced at Mobile World Congress back in February, is now available to buy, the company announced. Microsoft showed CNET the next-generation headset up-close. The self-contained, comfortable flip-up device has no controllers. It uses hand and eye-tracking and slides over glasses.

The future of augmented reality, which involves layering virtual objects on top of and in relation to real things, still isn’t fully here yet. Companies including Facebook, Google, Apple, Magic Leap and Microsoft are all trying to make headway, both on phones and through dedicated hardware. Microsoft’s betting on cloud processing to render graphics and send them down to small, low-powered headsets like the HoloLens 2, and world-mapping technology that can pin virtual objects to coordinates that lots of people can see at once. It’s a wild AR future vision.

A HoloLens “Development Edition” headset, image courtesy of Microsoft
A HoloLens “Development Edition” headset, image courtesy of Microsoft

But Microsoft’s remote rendering technology is still in private beta, while spatial anchor technology, which will help headsets like the HoloLens to place 3D objects in the real world, is in public beta. (Microsoft’s upcoming phone-based game, Minecraft Earth, will be the first AR experience on deck to explore multiplayer AR with shared worlds later this month.) According to Greg Sullivan, director of mixed reality at Microsoft, HoloLens 2 will add these too.

  • Business goals: Engagement and retention of customers via the presentation of products in the mixed reality environment
  • Product: HoloLens application that allows the user to interact with digital 3D models + back end used as to store and send models to the application as Unity bundles
  • Applied technologies: C#, Unity3D, HoloLens Toolkit libraries, Lua/UniLua, PHP, Yii2, PostgreSQL, AR/MR-specific testing

Another highlight for the new device is a wider range of controls and a number of refinements to both gesture tracking and eye tracking. When interacting with virtual environments, your movements with objects in AR have to sync well with your actual hand movements. With improved gesture recognition and an expanded range of gestures these actions feel much more natural than they ever could.

Microsoft Hololens Demo App Structure
Microsoft Hololens Demo App Structure

The Microsoft HoloLens 2 adds support for natural gestures, like using both hands to expand or resize a window, or simply grabbing an object and dragging it like you would in real life. This direct manipulation will go a long way towards helping AR users feel naturally immersed in their environments.

The addition of improved eye tracking will also enhance the natural feel of the headset, letting users scroll through web pages simply by looking down towards the bottom of the page. This, combined with voice recognition and virtual assistance, make AR a powerful tool for increasing productivity.

Typically, when a tech product gets better specs like these, it happens through sheer force of technical iteration: faster processors, bigger batteries, more RAM, and so on. But that strategy wouldn’t have worked for the display on the HoloLens 2. It needed to get lighter, not heavier. So Microsoft had to completely change over to a different kind of display technology.

Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality Device
Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality Device – Augmented Reality Headset

Made from lightweight carbon fibre, the HoloLens 2 is lighter than its predecessor and will feel much more comfortable to wear for the majority of users. It’s easier to adjust, has a re-balanced centre of gravity, and even lets users wear spectacles underneath the visor. A reworked cooling system keeps the new hardware running cool for extended wear. These are some of the major obstacles that prevented the original device from more mainstream use.

TheThe HoloLens 2 is only being sold to corporations, not to consumers. It’s designed for what Kipman calls “first-line workers,” people in auto shops, factory floors, operating rooms, and out in the field fixing stuff. It’s designed for people who work with their hands and find it difficult to integrate a computer or smartphone into their daily work. Kipman wants to replace the grease-stained Windows 2000 computer sitting in the corner of the workroom. It’s pretty much the same decision Google made for Google Glass.

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset,

Eye-tracking also comes into play in how you interact with holograms. The HoloLens 2 can detect where you’re looking and use that information as a kind of user interface. There were demos where I just stared at a little bubble to make it pop into holographic fireworks, but the most useful one was an auto-scroller. The closer to the bottom of the page I got, the faster the words scrolled, but then it stopped when I looked back up.

A new vision for computing

HoloLens 2 is the next-generation mixed reality headset that changes the way work gets done. More immersive and comfortable than anything else on the market, Microsoft HoloLens2 provides industry-leading value.

With a strong emphasis on Enterprise, Microsoft HoloLens2 is designed to address real-life challenges. Turn-key solutions, such as vGIS Utilities and vGIS Exploration, help HoloLens deliver an instant value “out of the box” and without long and expensive custom implementation projects.

HoloLens 2 Specs

Display:
  • Optics – See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)
  • Resolution – 2k 3:2 light engines
  • Holographic Density – >2.5k radiants (light points per radian)
  • Eye-based Rendering – Display optimization for 3D eye position
Sensors & Audio:
  • Depth – Azure Kinect sensor
  • IMU – Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer
  • Camera – 8MP stills, 1080p30 video
  • Microphone Array – 5 channels
  • Speakers – Built-in, Spatial Audio
Human Understanding:
  • Hand Tracking – Two-handed fully articulated model, direct manipulation
  • Eye Tracking – Real-time tracking
  • Voice – Command and control on-device, Natural Language with internet connectivity
Environmental Understanding:
  • 6DoF Tracking – World-scale positional tracking
  • Spatial Mapping – Real-time environment mesh
  • Mixed Reality Capture – Mixed hologram and physical environment photos and videos
Compute & Connectivity:
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Compute Platform
  • HPU: 2nd Generation Custom-built Holographic Processing Unit
  • WiFi: 802.11ac 2×2
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • USB: USB Type-C
Power:
  • Battery Life – 2-3 hours of active use
  • Charging – USB Power Delivery – Fast Charging
  • Thermals – Passively Cooled
Fit:
  • Size – Fits over glasses, size using the adjustment dial
Microsoft HoloLens

Great apps are already available for Microsoft HoloLens

There are plenty of great HoloLens-based tools are available already so you can begin improving or future-proofing your operations today. And the same apps will work even better on HoloLens 2 when it comes out. Here are a few apps to consider.

vGIS Utilities transforms traditional “flat” GIS data into augmented reality displays and holograms overlaid on your view of a physical job site. It lets you “see” your underground utility infrastructure as you tour a work area.

RemoteSpark by Kognitiv Spark is a cutting edge worker support communications platform with interactive 3D content, artificial intelligence, and live IoT data that brings expert support to front line workers, without travel and equipment downtime.

vGIS Exploration projects mining and exploration data as accurate 3D holograms. Geological information is combined with mine schematics, real-time wellbore information, extraction progress and microseismic to produce comprehensive holographic visuals. The geological and production data is sourced in real-time from your existing back-end system, thus eliminating the need for manual data manipulations.

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