After being announced earlier this year, Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset is shipping today. The headset priced at $3,500, will be delivered to preorder customers in about a half-dozen countries. The device was first released in 2016, and it’s an upgraded version featuring a wider field of view and more complex gesture controls.
The HoloLens 2 is shipping in the US, France, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The HoloLens has been revamped for better ergonomics, so its weight sits more comfortably and it’s not so difficult to find a good viewing angle. Its field of view has increased considerably, from 34 degrees to 52 degrees diagonally — Microsoft has described the total area as “more than doubled,” and you may not agree but it’s a big improvement.
Microsoft has also included complete gesture tracking, not simply the “air tap” option from the original HoloLens. Now you can do things such as pinch and drag objects or pull up menus by tapping a holographic button on your wrist. These new gestures are a good reason for companies to upgrade from the earlier HoloLens, as they offer a new range of app options.
For the first HoloLens, Microsoft prototyped some games and art apps but the HoloLens 2 is focused solely at business customers — especially people working in manufacturing or repair jobs where it is handy to have a hands-free heads-up display. With an additional monthly fee, buyers can get Microsoft’s Remote Assist software, which is designed for live, hands-free troubleshooting. Consumers aren’t meant to buy these headsets; however, they may still interact with them in places like product showrooms. And as part of the controversial Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a custom US military version of the HoloLens is being built.
Greg Sullivan, Microsoft communications director, says the original HoloLens will still be supported; however, some developers may start building apps which require the HoloLens 2’s gesture controls. He adds, that the preorder customers are a mix of new buyers and people who want to replace their first-generation devices. Sullivan says, “The first time it was like, ‘What is this thing?’” Now, there’s a current base of customers — although a comparatively small one — sold on the idea already.