Alex Kiplin, creator of the HoloLens took to the stage at MWC 2019 in Barcelona to reveal the next step in Microsoft’s mixed-reality future; the HoloLens 2. While consumers will be disappointed to find out that it’s still a business-focused product, the HoloLens 2 looks to offer an upgraded experience for enterprise users – and it’s available to pre-order right now.

Here’s all you need to know about the HoloLens 2, following an MWC 2019 announcement.

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When will HoloLens 2 be released?

While the HoloLens 2 was revealed by Microsoft at MWC in Barcelona, there’s no firm release date right now. Microsoft has confirmed that it’ll be shipping later in 2019, but gave no hint as to when that might be.

We’ll be sure to update this section as soon as we find out more.

How much does HoloLens 2 cost?

Despite not having an official release date, pre-orders of the HoloLens 2 are live right now. It’s a pricy headset at a whopping $3500 (UK pricing yet to be confirmed), and Microsoft has limited pre-orders to enterprise customers that want to use the headsets in the workplace. MR app developers are out of luck for now, but we imagine that’ll change fairly soon.

What does HoloLens 2 offer?

The HoloLens 2 is a big improvement over the first-gen device, but unfortunately for consumers, it’s still business-focused. You’ll have to wait a few more years before you can play Minecraft in Mixed Reality!

So, what does the HoloLens 2 offer? As revealed by creator Alex Kiplin, the HoloLens 2 offers more immersion, better comfort over long periods and industry-leading value out of the box. As explained by Kiplin, the HoloLens 2 offers more than two times the field of view when compared to the first-gen device.

According to Microsoft, it’s a similar effect from going from 720p HD to 2K across each eye, providing a higher-quality, more immersive experience. It was the biggest complaint from users of the first-generation device, so it’s good to see that Microsoft is responding to criticism.

The next hurdle for Microsoft to conquer with the HoloLens 2 was comfort. To improve the overall comfort of the headset, Microsoft 3D-scanned the heads of thousands of people and used the data to create a universal fix system that should fit a broad range of people, including glasses-wearers.

Crucially, it’s much easier to put on; it’s more akin to putting on a hat, according to Microsoft. It also boasts a Carbon Fibre front that makes it much lighter, and when combined with better weight distribution across the headset, it’s claimed that the device feels like it’s “floating on your head”. Microsoft claims that it’s three times more comfortable than the original HoloLens, although we’re not quite sure how Microsoft quantifies comfort…

The HoloLens 2 doesn’t just offer upgrades in the visual and design departments – it’s much smarter too. First up, Windows Hello support allows the headset to recognise you and sign you into your account as you put the headset on. But more importantly, the built-in tracking has had an upgrade; it can now actively track not only your hands, but your fingers too, and calibrates tracking to the individual size of your hands.

This should provide much more natural interaction with the holographic world. Microsoft demonstrated a number of uses for this during the conference, from interacting with virtual sliders to playing on a holographic piano and manipulating virtual objects with both hands.

This is combined with both voice control and eye-tracking, allowing you to interact with the holographic world in a more natural way.   

The HoloLens 2 offers more value out of the box for enterprise users too; traditionally it takes a company three to six months to successfully implement a mixed-reality solution. The company has to write code, test applications and more before rolling out the MR headsets to staff.

Microsoft wants to cut this down to minutes, and to do this, the HoloLens 2 comes with a suite of solutions from both Microsoft and industry partners that’ll enable near-immediate use in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to healthcare.

It looks like a significant upgrade to the first-gen device, and we imagine companies will be happy to drop $3500 on the HoloLens 2. We’ll be going hands-on soon, and will update this section with more details once we do.

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