Microsoft HoloLens – What’s new?

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21.04.2020, by Magi Marinova

What is the Microsoft HoloLens?

Microsoft HoloLens 1 was the very first holographic computer, which allows its buyers to experience the “mixed world” also known as AR (Augmented Reality) while working. Apart from using the Microsoft HoloLens 1 as a way to blend the real world with the holograms it displays, it can also be used for stimulating VR (Virtual Reality). The HoloLens enables its users to have 3D visualisations of what they are doing on their computer, be it them seeing their Minecraft castle on their coffee table or simply streaming a movie “on” your wall. 

The goggles are set to track the movements of the user, their gaze and transform their environment by intertwining it with the already mentioned 3D holograms. The HoloLens can be operated through the hand gestures of the user with the help of the location trackers of the device. Additionally, the sensors the HoloLens is equipped with, allows users to see the visualised hologram from all angles – while you are watching a short 3D movie, you can circle around the visualised object/s and see what is visible from each side. The most common things the Microsoft HoloLenses are used, are:

  1. Playing video games – HoloLens 1 has been compatible for usage with Xbox and PC ever since the first goggles came out.
  2. Designing – Due to its ability of scanning and mapping objects & surfaces, the user is able to design and see the finished product in front of them already whilst working.
  3. Go to wherever you want – The goggles allow people to explore not only the surface of Earth, but also go to places like Mars.
  4. Be part of your favourite productions – People will be able to go inside their beloved movies and feel as if they are part of them by being able to “communicate” with the characters. 
  5. Learn new skills – By being able to do not only homework, but also experiencing events first-hand, users will be learning in the most entertaining and tangible way. 

Release dates of Microsoft HoloLens 1 & 2

The first generation of the Microsoft HoloLens was released on the 30th of March, 2016 and the second one (Microsoft HoloLens 2) was originally set to be released on the 24th of February, 2019. However, the release of HoloLens 2 still has not taken place but stay tuned! With the first HoloLens release, Microsoft was aiming to offer its audience a device, which will be used for design, data analysis, medical imaging, standard computing and gaming. Here are some of the main ways Microsoft is improving the future through its HoloLenses:

  1. Improved AR (Augmented Reality) – By improving the resolution of its HoloLens 2, Microsoft succeeded in making AR much more realistic, hence, improving the user experience and making it more realistic.
  2. New Interface – The goggles offer not only hand- but also voice-control.
  3. Future of Gaming – Soon we will all be playing Fortnite, Gears of War, Unreal Tournaments, and Infinity Blade with the help of the HoloLens.
  4. Virtual Meetings – Making online meetings more personal by seeing a holographic life-like avatar of your colleagues.
  5. Experience Art – See a new type of 3D art through the HoloLens goggles.
  6. Helping Doctors – Doctors will be able to see “inside” a patient before undergoing surgery. 
  7. Infrastructure & Engineering – HoloLens 2 has the potential of allowing architects and engineers to plan new developments. 
  8. Instant Education – Senior professionals will be able to use the HoloLens in order to pass their knowledge to juniors more effectively.

Differences between Microsoft HoloLens 1 & 2

When it comes to user experience, both HoloLens generations (1 & 2) have a dial for size adjustment, however, HoloLens 2 tends to be more comfortable for people who are wearing glasses. Furthermore, Microsoft has updated its HoloLens 2 display technology by switching the 720p for each eye in HoloLens 1 with 2K display for each eye in HoloLens 2. Both sets do not need to be connected to a PC while they are being used, however, HoloLens 2 is more comfortable when it comes to using it for a longer period of time as the second generation goggles are lighter than its predecessor. 

Putting it simply, three main differences are noticed when using HoloLens 2: (i) holograms are easily visible with peripheral-vision due to the bigger field of view, (ii) there is a better headset balance, which is evident when you try to look down with the headset (if you look down with HoloLens 1, the headset might move a bit), (iii) there are no specific gestures to be used when trying to select a program/app or “push” a button, instead, with  HoloLens 2 the user can virtually “push” the button and the expected action will take place. By making these simple changes, Microsoft simplified the device usage, which they believe will result in higher technology acceptance of the audience. 

Getting into further details, HoloLens 1 is Intel-based whereas HoloLens 2 uses Qualcomm, running on Snapdragon 850. The 2K display units have an aspect ratio of 3:2, yet, the camera on HoloLens 2 offers 8 megapixels, just like HoloLens 1, with 1080p video at 30fps. For full device specifications, components, and box content of each product, check HoloLens 1 and HoloLens 2.
If you want to get to know how the HoloLenses work and perform, see the introduction of the very first HoloLens, how can the HoloLens AR be used, how HoloLens 2 is different from HoloLens 1, the on-stage demo of HoloLens 2, the Super Mario AR Demo, the Minecraft, Apps & more demo.

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