Microsoft’s Building the Next-Gen HoloLens in Broad Daylight

Posted on May 19, 2018 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 29 Comments


One thing I was looking forward to at Build 2018 is that I had been hearing whispers that Microsoft may start talking more openly about their next generation HoloLens at the conference. If you have been watching the Sams Report or FRD, you will know that one of my predictions is that we would learn more about the new hardware and if you were paying close attention, that’s exactly what the company did at the event.

If you are thinking ‘I don’t remember seeing any new demos or the new device’ you would be right, but what they did show off is the new sensor array that will be included in the headset. The thing is, they didn’t call it HoloLens, they called it Kinect.

Now, you might be thinking that ‘Brad, this is logical but speculation at best’ but that’s not an accurate statement. In conjunction with the blog post announcing the new Kinect sensor, Alex Kipman penned a post on his LinkedIn page talking about the hardware and it explicitly states “This is the sensor that Satya described onstage at the Build conference and is also the sensor that will give the next version of HoloLens new capabilities”.

There is no hiding this fact anymore, this is one component of the sensor array that will help make the next-gen device better than the hardware that you can buy today.

‘Ok that’s great Brad, but that’s one piece of the puzzle of the next generation hardware’ but if you dig in a bit more, the company has made other posts explicitly calling out the next-gen device. In July of 2017, the company talked about the second generation holographic processing unit that is again “is designed to work in the next version of HoloLens”.

What we know so far is the new HPU “will incorporate an AI coprocessor to natively and flexibly implement DNNs” and that the fourth generation Kinect sensor will provide significantly improved performance (especially in bright daylight). But there are a few more leaps that will be made with this hardware.

With all new hardware, we can expect it to be thinner, lighter, faster and have better battery life. This is the standard cadence for hardware improvements in any industry and knowing that the HoloLens has already gone through one revision, (second gen device was scrapped, read my scoop here) this will be the ‘third’ iteration of the hardware, the performance gains will be significant.

The biggest change will be the light engine that Microsoft is using and the specs of this hardware are harder to come-by but I do know that the company is bringing all this componentry in-house. The company is going all-in on development is not depending on third-parties to assist with design and development; think a wider field of view as that’s the primary limiting factor of the current gen device.

And finally there is the price, the current device costs a tough-to-swallow $3000 for the dev edition. I would hope that the next-gen device comes in at a lower price point to reach a wider audience but there are a couple things to consider.

One of the primary reasons Microsoft canceled v2 is that there isn’t any competition at this time. Magic Leap keeps making promises about shipping hardware but has yet to do so and Apple/Google, while working on this type of hardware, are not shipping anything.

I do believe that Microsoft made the right decision to not ship V2 and jump to ‘V3’ as the rough timeline is that we should see the hardware reach wide-availability is sometime next year. Even if Apple and Google announce hardware later this year, this should put the major players all on a similar timeline for hardware release and by not having to deal with the overhead-baggage of V2, V3 should be a better product as more resources are dedicated to building that new device.

But back to the price, personally, an ideal price point would be about $800 but I’m not holding my breath at this price point. While that may seem expensive, I’d rather have Microsoft ship a premium product than undercut it to hit a lower price point; it’s also the same price as a higher-end smartphone.

While I wish Microsoft would have shown us more at Build for the next-gen device to help build excitement for the brand and the company, they are clearly taking their time with the announcement to show us something closer to completion rather than a prototype.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Microsoft’s Building the Next-Gen HoloLens in Broad Daylight”

  1. Avatar

    david.thunderbird

    I'll be dead and buried before consumers will see this in the light of day.

    • Avatar

      ncn

      Actually I was going to downvote and say something snarky about "sorry about you upcoming terminal illness" but since you mentioned CONSUMER I think you probably have a somewhat longer lifespan ahead of you.


  2. Avatar

    lezmaka

    Since the current HoloLens has always been labelled as a dev edition, and V3 is intended to be something that will be accessible to a wider audience, I wonder if they will bring it out as a Surface-branded device.

  3. Avatar

    Jules Wombat

    The Kinect is only the sensor component. The real problem with HoloLens is the Processing power and the Projection unit, only supporting postage stamp FoV. So the next generation needs to fill the FoV for it to have any relevance outside a few niche business applications.

    Google has AR wrapped up with much simpler solution, just put cameras on the front of the headset. HoloLens was a just a distraction from the failure to announce Windows Mobile

  4. Avatar

    Bob2000

    Hololens will be an enterprise focused product it will not be a consumer product.


    MS will leave other platforms to fight it out in the consumer space.

  5. Avatar

    jgoraya

    What is interesting to me is that Microsoft has done around hinge engineering in Surface and how that can be incorporated in the Hololens. This may be used eventually get a version out that looks and works like a traditional set of glasses. They seem to have the components in house but Microsoft in the past hasn't been great bringing these parts together. That seems to be changing under Satya so time will tell...

  6. Avatar

    BrickPrinter

    I think that is is an enterprise or small business solution first and will radically changed the way a lot of businesses work, both in the plant but mostly in the field. I would love to see it as a consumer item also and although everyone is talking like the price is way too high--if it really delivered at around the same price and was possible to get enough consumer type software, I could see it being a high end consumer device also. I mean, I remember the first computer I ever bought just to do things like word processing and play a few games and it costs like $2500 and came with Windows 3.0 This tech whether MS or someone else does it will in 10 years transform so many things and will have so many uses, the pie is big enough for more than one diner.

  7. Avatar

    SocialDanny123

    The ideal strategy for Microsoft is to focus on the enterprise market for HoloLens and have companies Samsung (which is also working with MS on a AR/VR device) focus on the consumer market with Windows MR OS.

  8. Avatar

    RR

    $800? Not gonna happen. $800 is the price at which Apple is shipping 10s of millions of devices that have a lower technology quotient than HoloLens quarterly, that's not volumes Microsoft is going to get here, even in the wildest success, not for another 4-5 years in the future.

    Best case scenario is around $1,999. I think I bought a normal gateway computer at that price in 1999, if you think of this as a new computing category, it's around that $2000 price you start getting some mainline market traction if the consumer value is there in the product. Only later does it start coming down into more affordable levels. But I think even that price is unlikely because Microsoft is not really targeting consumers here.

    A fully realized consumer version of HoloLens would be something that could replace your computer, your TV, and your smartphone (for some types of consumers), and do 3D stuff none of them could ever do, so it certainly packs a lot of potential value (although hard to imagine Microsoft as the company that does that, their consumer ecosystem is almost finished, also all those capabilities would not be packed into it in meaningful way by 2019 whichever company actual ships product).

    Besides, Microsoft seems to be clearly targeting this at enterprises. Businesses don't really care what the price of an item is, the real question is whether it is actually a real thing, a tool they can just pick up and actually use in their workflows, rather than a tech experiment that distracts from completing their tasks, and what is the cost/benefit of it in hard numbers to them. If the HoloLens out there now were that real thing, that turbocharges their say productivity of field workers, they would still buy in in droves for $3000 or $5000.

    • Avatar

      roastedwookie

      In reply to RR:

      Businesses don't really care about the price of an item?? You are either delusional or simply talk like all fanboys do, without even the basic knowledge of how a business is managing it's budget! Price is one of de defacto when buying a new gear...price! And besides price, the utility and future commitment prospect of the vendor, which in this case, MS is a joke when it comes to commitment...not to mention the platform behind Hololens is a joke ignored by devs, or let me guess...you're gonna run legacy win32 apps on Hololens right? :))))

  9. Avatar

    allanwith

    To me, the reason why scrapping v2 made sense, was because it wasn’t going to be enough of an improvement, according to rumors. It wasn’t because of the lack of competition. Obviously, it would have been a problem, had Magic Leap launched in the mean time, but it didn’t . We will see what happens... I for one still look forward to both products launching and then we shall see.

  10. Avatar

    MacLiam

    If a standalone version comes out at a reasonable or even modestly unreasonable price in the next couple of years, I predict I will buy one. I believe there is a future for this tool in both the enterprise and consumer market segments.

  11. Avatar

    Angusmatheson

    It’s not fair to blame only Microsoft for announcing a promising but disappointing product then waiting a long time for the competitors to catch up. Google Glass is the poster boy for that. Hololense is at least exciting and a product that Microsoft can build on. Google Glass and Glassholes will negatively color the perspective of Google AR forever. How many years ago did that launch? I think many would argue the Occulus Rift is that product too. So problematic by the time it could be sold to consumers HTC and Valve could release the Vive and complete. The future is wearable, ubiquitous computing. Failure is giving up. Like Microsoft did with phone and band. And it seems like they are kinda doing with Cortana. Keep growing Hololense. Make your lead count.

  12. Avatar

    dcdevito

    Microsoft had an early pre-production lead in this category, and it's slipping away by the minute. I was so damn excited for HoloLens but they haven't done a damn thing for it in the consumer space. And the fact that they showed it off at Build on a factory floor tells me all that I need to know - they have zero interest in me. So be it. Google's making theirs soon so I'll just buy theirs, because there's no doubt theirs will be ready soon.

    • Avatar

      SocialDanny123

      In reply to dcdevito:

      There's very little use case for this type of device in the consumer space that will make people actually use it as a primary device. In terms of enterprise, professional and commercial space, there's a lot more things that can be used for this device. Also being in Enterprise first allows MS to iterate without the consumer expectations of being glasses form factor since companies don't care about the looks but more the functionality. Also Microsoft has a much much better chance in getting this mainstream in the market than Google or Apple since hundreds of millions of companies are embedded into Microsoft 365 ecosystem.


      IMO I think Apple will suffer the problem of consumer expectation, for privacy issues, bulkiness and features that Google Glass suffered with.

      • Avatar

        shameermulji

        In reply to SocialDanny123:

        "Also Microsoft has a much much better chance in getting this mainstream in the market than Google or Apple since hundreds of millions of companies are embedded into Microsoft 365 ecosystem."


        When MS came out with Windows Phone, people said the same thing yet it still got destroyed in the mobile space. I am not saying MS is destined to fail but at the same token having a large MS 365 user base is no guarantee either, as their failure in mobile has shown.

        • Avatar

          SocialDanny123

          In reply to shameermulji:

          Disagree that Windows Phone is the same thing. The Microsoft 365 ecosystem didn't exist back when Windows Phone came out. WP and Windows wasn't as integrated with each other along with Office as Windows 10, Office 365, Surface and other services are integrated as now.


          If Microsoft sells Andromeda as a mobile version of Surface Hub, it'll likely be popular in the enterprise, education etc. The reason why Hololens is likely going to sale better in the crucial enterprise space is because it's integration with MS365 and how it works with Windows 10 devices and comes with Office 365 and it all is managed via MS Intune all while being integrated into current platforms.


          It's the same reason why IMO Windows 10 S Mode/Windows Core OS will have a better chance in the enterprise space than Chrome OS, because Office 365 is rapidly growing, it's nicely integrated with current solutions and also because it provides the benefits of Chrome OS and Windows 10.



    • Avatar

      StevenLayton

      In reply to dcdevito:Not sure why you were down voted. At the time of my post you had 4 downvotes, and no comments. If you disagree with someone, at least give this guy an explanation why.


  13. Avatar

    yaddamaster

    I was so excited the first time I tried Hololens out. It was magical. So much promise. And now, just like anything Microsoft does that's not based on decades-old marketing schemes, Microsoft brass will figure out a way to screw it up through incompetence or neglect.


    This thing could conjure up unicorns and it will still fail because.....Microsoft. Oh, that's right - it's going to succeed in the enterprise. lol


    Seriously - I cannot believe Brad's statement - there's no competition so Microsoft made the right decision. Unbelievable. Just wait until Google is shipping something - then you all will see what we can do!


    Yeah. I'm bitter.

  14. Avatar

    roastedwookie

    No matter the price, it won't sell...who can ever trust them with anything these days. Today spend 3000$ on this thing, next day to hear it has been abandoned by an idiot that does not see the reason for another helmet. Hololens, as it looks right now, it was nothing more than another garage product, demoed to the public to try to make users forget about their catastrophic windows mobile failure

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