Microsoft’s Next-Gen HoloLens is Codenamed Sydney; Arrives Q1, 2019

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 29 Comments

It was a little over a year ago, that I broke the news that Microsoft had stopped the development of HoloLens V2 and was pushing forward to V3. Since then, I have been asked about a million times for more information about the upcoming device but if you know where to look, the company is developing the hardware in broad daylight.

Based on documents I was able to view, Microsoft is still targeting a Q1 release of the next gen headset. Additionally, the company is referring to the project internally as Sydney.

The device, according to the documents, will be lighter, more comfortable to wear, and have significantly improved holographic displays. But most importantly, it will cost significantly less than the current version of the HoloLens.

All of this is the natural evolution for the second generation of a piece of hardware but the good news is that it’s still on track for a release early next year.

What I don’t know is if the Q1 date is for general availability or for a developer preview. I could see Microsoft seeding the newer higher-end devices to developers prior to the general release of the hardware but that is only speculation at this time.

Based on the documents I was able to view, Microsoft is approaching the MR/VR market as a must-win market. This is likely because they are on the sidelines of the smartphone segment and missing out on this generation of devices would inflict serious long-term ramifications for the company about being anything more than a cloud company.

For Microsoft, they currently have an advantage in this space as they are shipping hardware but Apple, Google, Magic Leap, and many others are investing in this space heavily which means they won’t be the only competitor in this segment for long.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Microsoft’s Next-Gen HoloLens is Codenamed Sydney; Arrives Q1, 2019”

  1. Avatar

    Hoomgar

    Annnnd....  nobody cares.

  2. Avatar

    cseafous

    Can't wait to see it. I am currently using an app called Yousician to learn to play guitar. I'm guessing an AR headset that would allow me to see the notes and still see the guitar strings would be perfect.

  3. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    MS still flogging this dead horse are they. VR/AR has already flopped with the consumer - they just aren't interested. If MS are pushing this device for professional markets, then that's fine, but still a very, very small market. MS may think it's a 'must win' market, I'm just not sure there's actually a viable long-term market there TO WIN.

  4. Avatar

    glenn8878

    Still time to corner the market. Not really.

  5. Avatar

    Dandyv

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  6. Avatar

    sj3vans

    I can't wait for AR to hit the main stream. I'm sure I'm in the extremely geeky minority, but I would pay for it just to "augment" my own personal work environment. I have the HP Mixed-Reality headset (not sure why they call it MR versus just VR - probably just marketing) and have setup a virtual work desk sitting on the roof of their cliff-side house. I love it. I have a large virtual 10 foot window open of my desktop and an number of other smaller screens (just 60 virtual inches or so each) for other common apps (e.g. Tweetium, weather, stocks, photos, news). The only thing is, I can't see my hands on the keyboard which makes it less appealing to me although it is quite nice when I'm watching webinars or other passive content and like to jump around. The voice controls are getting better but it seems we're a long way from Jarvis in Iron Man.


    Having the HoloLens's AR would provide me with the benefits of an extremely customized work environment with as many monitors as I want, anywhere I want, and also still be able to see my hands on the keyboard or if someone walks into the room. So perhaps you are thinking: "Wow! Of all the all the problems in the world or uses for technology, this is one you're thinking of for AR to solve?" Yep. Of course there are many better or more noble uses for AR, and I will certainly be looking into those too, probably on a 60 inch virtual screen while listening to a virtual stream running through my augmented reality office.

  7. Avatar

    Jarrett Kaufman (TurboFool)

    Main thing I want, based on everything I read about the first one (never got to play with one myself) is a dramatically improved FOV. Sounds like that was its biggest limitation. Dramatically improve that in addition to everything else noted, and we're golden.

    • Avatar

      bobrundle

      In reply to TurboFool:
      Field of View in my opinion is a red herring. I've spent a lot of time in the HoloLens and I rarely notice the clipping that occurs at the edge of the FOV in the same way you hardly ever notice anything in your peripheral vision. Sure we all like big screens but what we fail to appreciate is that we need big screens because they are immobile. When the screen is synced with your head movement it can be very small in the same way the lens in eyeglasses can be small. Most of the time you are completely focused on whatever is in the center of the view.


      • Avatar

        col000r

        In reply to bobrundle:

        Are you insane? FOV is hands down the single most important problem that Mixed Reality has to solve.

        • Avatar

          bobrundle

          In reply to col000r:

          Not a chance. Tech press might think so but for any real user this is almost a non-issue. When you get fitted for eyeglasses (that is if you ever have) the FOV is not even discussed. The most important factor in choosing lens size is fashion.

          • Avatar

            RSoames

            In reply to bobrundle: This is wildly off-base. We spend a lot of time prototyping Hololens for data center applications and the nearly universal feedback from our user tests is that FOV is a blocking issue on Hololens v1: it's disorienting, it breaks immersion, and it's virtually unusable for anything other than static desktop-sized experiences where your head isn't moving. Our experience is identical to feedback Microsoft has said is the #1 complaint about the system, and the reason they've continued to note that they're working to expand FOV.
            From your comments it doesn't seem like you've had much experience with these systems, otherwise you'd understand that the FOV for typical glasses is roughly 5x the FOV of the Hololens.


            • Avatar

              drydockstudios

              In reply to RSoames: Agree; the FoV being limited was a big issue with the Hololens. However, the most single reason I lost faith in the device was that Microsoft didn't have the foresight to extend the API so that developers could easily reroute spatial map data to their own web servers in realtime, which renders the Hololens stationary for an untethered unit, and useless.


  8. Avatar

    John Craig

    Yeah, if it arrived somewhere in the £700-1000 market I'd be in. Smashing that and Andromeda in my back pocket. Awesome :)

  9. Avatar

    bobrundle

    Great stuff Brad! I've been working on the HoloLens for about a year now and have been anxiously awaiting the next gen model. A lot will depend on the software. The future is building AR UIs that compete with desktop. Impossible now with current gen software. Interestingly the limitation is the 2D tooling. Sure you can create UWP apps for the HoloLens but what you really want to do is create Unity apps and there is a poverty of 2D controls for Unity and no way to combine UWP with Unity...you have to switch between one and the other. So the challenge is to create Unity 2D UI elements that are just as good as the elements available for Desktop applications.

    • Avatar

      sbrown23

      In reply to bobrundle:

      Honest question … why Unity over UWP on HoloLens? I've never developed for AR before.

      • Avatar

        xenvy04

        In reply to sbrown23:

        In Unity you can choose between a D3D app or XAML. D3D is for 3D app and Unity gives a huge benefit of being able to visualize it and develop in 3D easily. For XAML (2D app) there isn't much benefit to developing in Unity over Visual Studio. In all cases we are still talking about UWP app development. A D3D app made in Unity for HoloLens is a UWP app.

      • Avatar

        bobrundle

        In reply to sbrown23:

        UWP is fundamentally 2D. So on the HoloLens you can hang a UWP "window" (not even sure what the terminology is...sometimes I see tile or pane) on a physical wall. So in HoloLens the desktop has been transformed into (in a very literal sense) a room. This is indeed interesting and useful, but the real action is in 3D. You can place holograms around the room from a demo program. These holograms have volume...but as it turns out this capability is not open to 3rd party developers. As a 3rd party developer, to do anything in the HoloLens in 3D, the tool of choice is Unity.

  10. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    Would love to see this, but I think the hardware is not really the issue here.. it's the interface. For this to be a new breakthrough, they need to radicalize the human interaction to make it more useful/easy to use than current tech. I've played with the HoloLens 1, and while it was very cool, it was very difficult to use, relatively speaking to a phone or mouse+keyboard. Finger gestures just aren't easy/fine-controlled enough, and those ridiculous hand held controllers are awkward to the extreme.

    • Avatar

      bobrundle

      In reply to unkinected:

      The HoloLens has no controllers. The HoloLens is difficult to use only in the way that a bicycle is difficult to ride the first time. The hand gestures become second nature. The voice commands are accurately heard and executed. What is exciting about this platform is that there are only a few hand gestures and voice commands. The platform is an blank book waiting for someone to write in it. The "aha" moment has arrived for me and I have witnessed this moment arrive for others as they encounter this phenomenon that they thought they understood but as it turns out their understanding was impoverished.

      • Avatar

        Chris Payne

        In reply to bobrundle:

        Granted, you may have much more experience than me with it so I'll take your word for that. But what I've seen and played with so far is cumbersome to use quickly... HoloLens can't become a productivity option unless it can rival the quick interaction you get with mouse/keyboard/touchscreen.


        I'm not saying it won't get there... just that it isn't ready for the masses. I can't wait for HoloLens to deliver Tony Stark/Jarvis type interactions.

      • Avatar

        xenvy04

        In reply to bobrundle:

        I mean, it has a clicker, and MS is experimenting with controllers in their MR stuff. I think the HoloLens would benefit a lot from having controllers and I hope that Sydney has them

  11. Avatar

    curtisspendlove

    I can’t help but think it would be a natural to have some XBox Scarlet tie-in as well.


    I realize they are going for a different segment, but I still haven’t seen great consumer applications for this.


    I love the the idea of something like this helping my “dad memory” along, translating signage while I’m driving in a foreign country, etc.


    But I think we are a few years away from the tech required for that kind of functionality.

  12. Avatar

    Shmuelie

    I want to know if there will be a V1 trade in program? lol

  13. Avatar

    dcdevito

    I'll be willing to wait in line for this for days. I haven't been this excited for a tech product since my Commodore 128.

  14. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    I can see them talking about this at next year's Build conference. The question is whether they'd be talking about it in the present tense or the future tense (i.e. will it-- and an updated version of Windows optimized for it-- be delivered in March (as they delivered 1803 this year), or will Build offer a future look at a 1909 Windows update and a wider fall release)?

  15. Avatar

    MacLiam

    Actually, I can see MS seeding the new version to developers later this year on the QT, and then taking the thing to market in early 2019. Whatever day they announce its availability, I will own one that afternoon -- or at least have it on order.


    Microsoft is often accused of overpromising and underdelivering. We know, however, that they are also completely capable of keeping a secret. In a spirit of contrarianism, I predict that this time the company will underpromise and overdeliver. We should all be able to buy one in January. We may even be able to order one as a seasonal gift, though actual delivery would not happen until the first week of January. (But how cool would it be if you could preorder them on December 1 for guaranteed delivery no later than December 22? Microsoft, are you tuned to my broadcast frequency?)


    OK, I may be suffering from irrational exuberance. But I'm still optimistic. And I want one.

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