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Microsoft unveils HoloLens 2 with a enterprise laser-focus

The second-generation mixed reality headset will be released later in the year for $3,500

Microsoft has announced HoloLens 2 at MWC on Sunday, the follow up to its mixed reality headset.

The announcement was made by Alex Kipman, a Microsoft Technical Fellow and the creator of the first HoloLens, who said that customers had been consistently asking Microsoft for three things to improve the HoloLens.

First, was for more immersion, people wanted to see more of the holographic landscape the headset presents. Second, was to make the device more comfortable, so users could stay emersed for longer periods of time. And third, was for it to have industry-leading value right out of the box.

Microsoft took this on board and improved the headset's a field of view so that it's more than double that of the first-generation HoloLens, approximating 2,000 pixels per eye while still maintaining the original's pixel density. Ten-Point touch interaction with holograms, complete with the ability to sense hand movements with greater fidelity, has also been added. And, a new UI model that allows users to interact with virtual buttons and for holograms to follow the user.

Microsoft sees HoloLens 2 as an enterprise device for front-line workers and touted that the main changes such as the expanded field view, built-in AI tools and direct manipulation of holographs, will enable the headset to achieve this. The $3,500 device will be the front end for apps such as Dynamics Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 layout and Dynamics Guides applications. More importantly, Microsoft has said it will have an open approach to third-party developers.

While the news that the new device will allow more immersion and comfort will go down well with all, the integration with Azure and Dynamics will be the bigger plus for the enterprise arena.

"Microsoft's new HoloLens device will bring the enterprise mixed reality market to its next level of adoption," said J.P. Gownder, VP and principal analyst at Forrester. "The device itself solves many problems associated with the first model - from a vastly expanded field of view to better hand gestures. But it's the integration with Azure and Dynamics that will empower developers to create powerful mixed reality experiences more quickly and cheaply.

"For the old HoloLens, editing the number of polygons forming a hologram into a manageable number was challenging and expensive. With cloud tools, developers can render an object in, say, 50,000 polygons on the device but also can render it in the Azure cloud with one million polygons visible to the user. This turbocharger's the opportunity for creating holograms that workers can interact with during their daily jobs, helping them solve previously intractable problems."

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