microsoft hololens 2

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 aims to provide most realistic AR experience yet

Image credit: reuters

Microsoft has updated HoloLens, its augmented reality headset, to provide improved immersion through a wider field of view and to make it more comfortable for users with different head sizes.

The HoloLens 2 will be made available to businesses for $3,500 (£2,680) and Microsoft said it was looking to “provide a far more immersive, instinctual and comfortable experience for first-line workers whose hands are occupied by physical tasks”.

Augmented reality devices overlay images as holograms on to a user's real-life field of vision, aiming to improve efficiency at businesses ranging from doctor’s offices to factory floors.

Improvements to the visual display system in HoloLens 2 should make holograms “even more vibrant and realistic” while maintaining the “industry-leading” holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight, Microsoft said.

It also contains eye-tracking sensors which make interacting with holograms more natural. These can also be used to log in with ‘Windows Hello’ through iris recognition.

Revealed on stage ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the technology giant said it had increased the number of apps that will be available to HoloLens users.

microsoft hololens 2

Microsoft’s Alex Kipman

Image credit: reuters

“For the first time, you’re going to feel what it feels like to touch a hologram, to interact with a hologram and to play with it, almost where you forget that this is a piece of digital content you’re looking at, as opposed to it just existing in the real world,” Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said.

“The promise of mixed reality is that all of these devices are lenses into this connected content that exists in the world.

“Let’s say I want to place a hologram in the middle of the room. If I leave the room and you come in with your HoloLens or your phone or your tablet, should you see the hologram? Assuming privacy and permissions all apply, the answer is yes.”

Unlike other virtual and mixed reality headsets, Microsoft has targeted its device at enterprise, positioning HoloLens as a tool to help employees do their jobs.

The new version of the headset is also lighter, more comfortable and has had its field of view doubled, Kipman said.

“We put our hearts, bodies, souls and all our waking hours into creating this vision and bringing it into practice,” he said.

“This is now the moment where we get to see how this technology empowers our customers to compete, to digitally transform, to achieve something they weren’t able to achieve before, to do something that we’ve never imagined. All of those things I’m excited about.”

However, some Microsoft employees have publicly criticised the company for signing a $479m contract with the US Army to provide HoloLens headsets for use in the field.

In an open letter, the coalition of workers said it would “refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression.”

“We are alarmed that Microsoft is working to provide weapons technology to the US Military, helping one country’s government ‘increase lethality’ using tools we built,” the letter states.

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