BARCELONA: MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED the arrival of HoloLens 2, the follow-up to its mixed reality helmet.
Four years after the original, the launch comes with controversy built-in, after it transpired that Microsoft was rumoured to have signed a deal with the US Department of Defence much to the disgust of many Microsoft staffers.
"Privacy is a fundamental human right," quoth Mr Nadella (we thought that was worth a mention/derisory snort) as he burbled on about "meaningful impact". Before the main event, we heard another significant announcement - Microsoft Azure Kinect - a version of the Xbox favourite designed to be accessed by IoT devices to add AI-powered 3D analysis of the world.
HoloLens 2 uses the same technology in a device that reduces the Judge Dredd look to something more akin to a pair of oversized skiing goggles. It "sets the bar for mixed reality and intelligence" following feedback from users of the original.
47 pixels per degree from the original Hololens is maintained, with more than double the field of vision added to increase immersion. The AI can preempt your gestures, making it possible to virtually ‘touch' the AR aspects of your vision.
The carbon fibre body has "more than tripled" the comfort of the device, which is an interesting concept as comfort is abstract rather than quantifiable. That said, partners can now work with Microsoft to create customised versions - so you could have a version built-in to a hard hat or a policeman's helmet.
HoloLens 2 uses your iris to log you in as soon as you put it on, and analyses your hands, adapting its action to your hand shape.
Microsoft claims that you don't need to learn how to use HoloLens 2, as because you can ‘touch' objects, it's instinctive to manipulate virtual items as with real ones.
Although there's no feeling of touch (yet), the audio and visual feedback gives enough feedback to feel like your touch is an interaction.
As part of the announcement, a range of existing software from partners was also confirmed for a variety of use cases. Microsoft Dynamics for Hololens, for example, offers training programmes in mixed reality, and a preview is available now.
Also of note, a native Firefox browser for Hololens is on the way.
As for the HoloLens 2 itself, it goes on preorder from now at $3,500 or it can be leased for $125/m. It's primarily aimed at the workplace (though expect Fortnite soon), which will be a huge relief to the likes of Oculus and MagicLeap, who would otherwise be quaking in their boots. μ
Another fine mesh
But, er, it'll be available in pink
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