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HoloLens 2 AR headset announced for $ 3,500, available now, ships later this year



Comfort, better pictures, easier to use with your hands. It's the pickup from HoloLens 2 Microsoft's follow-up to the Space Age goggles, announced four years ago.

The technology behind the $ 3,500 HoloLen's 2 device that Microsoft calls "mixed reality" overlays computer images in the real world. Imagine arrows pointing you down the street as you walk, or repair instructions floating over a machine as you solve it. That's MR's promise, Microsoft says.

The company was pioneered in magnified reality worlds, when tech giant debuted its first headset, in 201

5, companies charge $ 5,000 for gadget. Since then, rival units, like $ 2,295 Magic Leap, have come on stage.

At such prices, the MR headset is far more expensive than the competing VR technology currently on the market. Facebook's Oculus Rift is, for example, $ 349, HTC's Vive is $ 499 and Sony's PlayStation VR is $ 299. You need to buy a computer or PlayStation 4 console to run these VR devices, but even then their prices are at least half what Microsoft or Magic Leap is asking.

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A look at the lenses in HoloLens 2.


James Martin / CNET

It has not deterred Microsoft from designing an improved headset as part of its impetus in the now busiest AR universe. The company says that HoloLens is still not ready for you and I to use at home myself. Instead, Microsoft is focused on businesses and the military (though it is different in the Redmond line.)

In addition to this warning, Microsoft has made some welcome improvements to the device, which takes place on Sunday's pre-order and will be sent later this year.

"Computing is embedded in our world, in every way in every way," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he unveiled the device at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. "Computing ranges from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines."

He said the result is that the approach to how companies like Microsoft are approaching the technology they are doing. "It's no longer about being unity first, it's about putting people first, and it includes all entities in their lives."

"We don't just have to imagine it," he added. "This future is here."

CNET traveled to Redmond, Washington to see the future he spoke of abd talking to Microsoft executives and designers, including technical fellow Alex Kipman, on HoloLens 2.

In HoloLens 2 is not intended for you. But HoloLens 3 can be we look at where HoloLens fits into the world, and why some techies think mixed reality technology will outweigh the way we use computers.

"The goal is that these things transform people," said Alex Kipman, Microsoft's technical fellow, who heads the HoloLens project. He describes it as giving people superpowers. "This is a concept that has been in our dreams." In HoloLens 2: Practical Magic we share how it is to use HoloLens 2, its key features and where Microsoft comes next in AR … and why it is aimed at businesses and not average people yet. Take a dive into what we experienced.

We also need to check Microsoft's building materials laboratory that comfortably works for 95 percent of people, regardless of their height or size. This is where Microsoft made HoloLens 2 more comfortable than its predecessor.

In HoloLens 2: Why It Really Is About The Cloud explains ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley Microsoft's latest apps and services.

Here's what you need to know about what Microsoft announces in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2019.

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04:54

At $ 3,500, it's still not made for everyday people

Instead, it's primarily designed for people like manufacturing workers, industrial designers, and the military, and for situations where field workers may need to work hands-free. But Microsoft said its $ 3,500 headset will eventually be ready to buy. Someday.

It arrives in 2019, but it's still not clear when

Microsoft has not set a specific release date, but HoloLens 2 can be pre-ordered now if you are interested.

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The HoloLens was already packed with a bunch of cameras and other sensors. Now it also has eye tracking.


James Martin / CNET

HoloLens 2 tracks your eyes

Microsoft included sensors near the nose edge of HoloLens 2, pointed at your eyes. The technology is used to log on to the device and save your individual settings if you share the headset with a colleague or a friend.

Microsoft will also give app developers access to eye tracking. In a demo, the company showed how a teleprompter could follow as you read. There is also built-in iris recognition that works with Windows Hello to log in to HoloLens 2.

It also tracks your hands better

Magic Leap One and most VR headsets come with dedicated controllers. HoloLens 2 does not; It depends on hand and voice control via Cortana. The first HoloLen's recognized basic touch and click movement, but the new headset recognizes 21 points of articulation per hand and allows for more realistic hand movements. Technically, it's the most advanced hand tracking on any AR headset we've tried.

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Display Field Doubled

There is much to suffer from the changes Microsoft has made with HoloLens 2, but perhaps the most dramatic improvement to the "field of view" or how much hologram you can see at any time.

The view of the first HoloLens was about the size of a card card a few feet from your face. It was annoyingly tiny. HoloLens 2 more than doubles this range to 52 degrees. Practically, it's still not as wide as most VR headsets, but it's better than Magic Leap One.

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Glasses accepted

Unlike many AR headsets and smartglasses (including Magic Leap One), HoloLens 2 is designed with glasses in mind. The new flip-up visor makes it even easier to slip on, and our demos worked for several team members with glasses.

It's an advantage over Magic Leap that doesn't work with glasses at all and requires a limited selection of prescription lenses. In 2006, the National Institutes of Health said 14 million people in the country needed some kind of vision correction. So that means it.

New apps from Microsoft and partners

Microsoft also announces new HoloLens apps, which it believes most companies will benefit from. One is called Dynamic 365 Guides, which allows companies to put together guiding instructions in mixed reality. In a demo, Microsoft made us collect parts and repair a broken ATV by using only the instructions from the app.

Another app, called Dynamic 365 Layout, creates a persistent map of the buildings you are in and stores them with Microsoft. This allows developers to place a hologram on a table in a room, and if you leave this room and come back one day later or with another HoloLens headset, you still find it.

Microsoft's latest headset works with new cloud apps, but it doesn't have a mobile connection device. Instead, it connects via Wi-Fi.

Other software and business partners include Spatial, a company that develops internet-based office video chat and collaboration software that makes you feel that the people you are affiliated with are right there in the room with you.

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Alex Kipman, who leads the team to make HoloLens, says he wants the device to last long enough for people to use it several times before a charge.


James Martin / CNET

Open system

There is a debate in the technology industry about how computers and phones should work. Would they be "open" like Microsoft Windows and phones powered by Google's Android software? Or should they be "closed" and managed, like Apple's App Store for iPhone and iPad, promising potentially better security?

Microsoft said it comes down to the "open" page with HoloLens 2. The device Microsoft said will allow everyone to create an app store for HoloLens 2. It will also allow app developers like Mozilla to bring his Firefox browser to HoloLens 2 too. And even developers like Epic Games can create coding tools for HoloLens, Microsoft said.

"Epic will fully support Microsoft's HoloLens strategy now and in the long term," said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney .

"I have great hopes and dreams will come together in this ecosystem," Kipman said.

Battery life? About three hours

Microsoft confidently says that it does not expect people to burn through a whole battery charge of HoloLens 2 in a single meeting. But if so, the unit lasts about 3 hours, according to the company. It looks like Magic Leap and can be better than Facebook's Oculus Go mobile headset, which lasts approx. 2 hours for a fee.

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The HoloLens, from the front.


James Martin / CNET

HoloLens 3 comes in a few years

Microsoft said it plans to announce its follow-up to HoloLens 2 in the next year or two. The company gave no details except to say that the device becomes even more comfortable and easier to use and that it will do more than HoloLens 2.

Kipman said a prototype of the device was what helped Microsoft win a lucrative $ 480 million contract with the US Army.

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Azure Kinect combines in-depth cameras with a range of microphones that connect with Microsoft's cloud.


Microsoft

Microsoft also returns Kinect as an IoT device

Azure Kinect Development Kit is a small, self-contained set of cameras and microphones designed to work with a PC or directly to the cloud via Microsoft Azure. The $ 399 dev kit is also available for pre-order Sunday, and was first announced last year's Microsoft Build Conference.

Specifications

Here are the speeds and feeds.

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Compute Platform and second generation custom built holographic processing unit.

DISPLAY: Like a 2k screen for each eye, which creates 47 pixels per second. Degree – what Microsoft says is often called the "retina" – with a 52 degree field of view. (The original HoloLens was similar to a 720 monitor for each eye in 30 degree field of view.)

AUDIO INPUT: 5-channel microphone array.

AUDIO OUTPUT: Built-in "Spatial Sound".

CONNECTION: USB Type-C, 802.11ac 2×2, no cellular connection.

WEIGHT: 566 grams or 1.25 pounds. (The original HoloLens weighed 579 grams or 1.28 pounds.)

BATTERY LIFE: About three hours.

Mobile World Congress 2019


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