Hands-on with HoloLens 2: It’s even better than I thought!

Rob Enderle2019-03-14 13:51:00

[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

A couple of weeks back I wrote that HoloLens 2 was the beginning of a computer revolution. Last week I was able to spend some time with HoloLens 2 and I’m pleasantly surprised that the device was actually better than I thought it would be.

I’ve been involved with HoloLens since it was a targeted prototype for Lawrence Livermore Labs, where they pretty much had to assemble it on your head (and it was tethered)! Now it could actually be successfully deployed by someone other than an expert.

I still believe some form of mixed reality is in our computing future and AR games like the coming Harry Potter Wizards Unite game will continue to focus us on what this could be rather than what it is. This is important because it drives investor interest and investor interest drives startups and more rapid advances.

The first edition of this product had a number of issues. It wasn’t easy to swap users. The product’s construction put the weight on the front which tired your neck prematurely. Occlusion wasn’t very good, so the rendered objects were translucent. And the field of view was annoyingly small. But it wasn’t a bad-looking product and it appeared like the kind of protective shield you’d find on a helmet. I’ve often thought they should just build this into a helmet given how often it is used in industrial settings and because that would create a result that looked less like a huge device on your head that didn’t belong. (It should be noted that Microsoft opened up the design of this thing and now a third party is building into a helmet.)


I didn’t get to try the helmet, sadly, but I was able to use the new stand-alone HoloLens 2. What I found was that the product was far better balanced which made it feel lighter – even though it wasn’t – by removing the strain on the back of my neck. Field of view increases made an enormous difference because it no longer felt like I had some kind of little window in front of my face. Occlusion still isn’t were I’d like it to be, but it’s far better than it was. Now, if you focus on the object, it looks more real than it did…and while it wouldn’t fool anyone yet as to its actual reality it’s close enough that you can more easily suspend belief. For its initial industrial use this isn’t that important (except it does likely reduce eye strain), but this capability will be huge when they pivot the HoloLens to the consumer market in a few years.


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