Microsoft HoloLens 2: Everything we know so far about the mixed reality headset

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We dive into the potential price, features and release date of the next-gen headset

Microsoft is the most seasoned of the major augmented reality players, having released its HoloLens headset long before Apple and Google started experimenting with the medium through smartphones.

And while the first generation is now beginning to justify its existence in the classroom, in the operating theatre and within industry, there’s still a long road to travel before it can be considered the go-to headset in the space.

Microsoft HoloLens 2 investigation

More competition is rumoured to be on the horizon from all members of the big four (Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook), and it’s highly likely any rival headsets would bring stronger specs and potentially even a cheaper price point than HoloLens currently offers. Designs from startups such as Magic Leap are finally coming to the fore, too.

It’s why an updated version of the device is almost certainly set to land sooner rather than later. So, journey with us, reader, as we dive into the rumoured features, design and price of HoloLens 2, and even offer a word on when it could be released.

Design and features

Microsoft HoloLens 2: Everything we know so far about the mixed reality headset

It’s been over three years since Microsoft first unveiled HoloLens, so it’s fair to expect some level of change when it comes to the capabilities of the next generation.

And thanks to various industry whispers, we already have some fairly definitive details on what will power the headset. According to a recent report from The Verge, the headset will allegedly offer an improved field of view, will sit lighter on the head and also be more comfortable to wear. Of course, as we say, since it’s been a while since HoloLens was initially developed, this is the least we can expect from a reworked edition.

Perhaps the more interesting information comes from Thurrott, who indicates that the project for HoloLens 2 is codenamed ‘Sydney’, and that the final design will be powered by an ARM-based processor. That means it’ll offer a more powerful experience than the original, while battery life should also be vastly improved.

That performance will also be aided, according to Engadget, by Qualcomm’s recently-announced XR1 chip. The processor has been built specifically for creating strong VR and AR experiences, with the big Q’s technology able to help deliver directional audio, 3D overlays and 4K video at 60 frames per second.

As you might expect, a modified version of Windows 10 is also expected to be running. However, what we don’t know, really, is how the actual look of the device will compare to the original. Expect more leaks in the lead-up to any official word from Microsoft, but for now we’re left to speculate.

Price

Microsoft's HoloLens 2 will have built-in AI to make it smarter (and faster)

Despite the futuristic features, the price of HoloLens has always been the elephant in the room. The developer edition of the device still rests at $3,000, while the version running full Commercial Suite sits at $5,000.

That’s a long way away from the price tags we’re likely to see from consumer-focused devices reportedly being planned by rivals, but Microsoft’s target with HoloLens has pretty much always rested primarily within business.

And according to reports, the price is set to be slashed significantly, in order to make adoption for businesses more viable. We’re not expecting a three-figure sum – that feels a bit optimistic – but it’s not too big of a stretch, we feel, to speculate that HoloLens 2 could come in at around half the price of the original.

Release date

Microsoft HoloLens 2: Everything we know so far about the mixed reality headset

As we noted up top, the release date is a crucial part of the HoloLens 2 story, since there’s now multiple competitors lurking beneath the water.

But just when we can expect a release, or even details regarding an official announcement, is naturally unknown at this stage. Multiple reports have previously suggested that details will be shared by Microsoft before the end of the year, with a full launch expected in the early part of 2019.

And while we know Microsoft is prone to sneaking in HoloLens news at events later in the year (for example, during an event back in October 2016, it showed off new capabilities through Windows 10), it’s not clear if the next generation would warrant an event of its own or form part of a wider product launch.

Microsoft Ignite is slated for late September, so details could potentially merge at that conference. For now, though, we’ll just have to sit tight before more concrete release date information emerges.

(wareable.com, http://bit.ly/2NvVGXt)

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