Hands On: Rochester Optical HoloLens Insert

Posted on September 9, 2016 by Rafael Rivera in Hardware with 0 Comments

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new optical insert for HoloLens developed by New York lens manufacturer Rochester Optical. As promised, we reached out to the company, received more information, and got our hands on a release candidate to take for a spin.

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In the box was a felt-lined case, not unlike what you would see at an optometrist’s office, containing the usual optical fare — the lenses (pre-installed into the frame), a large microfiber cleaning cloth, and smaller nose pads for the less… nosey. While I had no problem with the way this was shipped, I’m told this packaging is not final and will get an upgrade at launch.

Despite its tiny size, the lightweight stainless steel frame and attachments felt solid. Nothing jiggled around when shaken.

The lenses were correctly tuned to my eyes but I’m still scratching my head over the high-frequency blue-light anti-reflective coating. Optometrists seem to generally agree that particular bands of blue-violet light (415 nm to 455 nm) speed up macular degeneration. But when I asked Microsoft what’s up, they didn’t seem concerned:

Microsoft takes safety concerns very seriously. Microsoft products are designed and manufactured to meet or exceed all applicable regulatory and industry safety standards

I’ll have to do more research on that, though it’s worth noting Microsoft is introducing a similar blue light filter of its own in the next revision of Windows.

Anyway, with no noticeable impact to hologram quality, it certainly doesn’t hurt having some protection in place.

 

There are no instructions in the box, but it was a no-brainer to install.

I lightly squeezed the existing nose pads together, pulled them out, and dropped in the new insert. It was a 30-second job. Removing them for cleaning, however, required the use of pliers — not something I really wanted near $3,000 worth of hardware — due to the short inaccessible center tabs. But this isn’t something you’ll need to worry about: I’m told this is fixed in the retail units, which provide thin flexible grips. (Phew!)

I didn’t appreciate how soft the silicone nose pads were until I put the HoloLens on my face. They are substantially more comfortable than the stock pads, strange for such a high-cost device. But where the insert shines is how it eliminated the painful nose bridge contention between the HoloLens (with or without its pads) and my thick-framed glasses.

As far as I’m concerned, this insert will remain permanently installed in the device. I have no desire to ever go back.

The insert ships this Fall and will cost $199 for single vision and $249 for bifocal lenses. It may behoove you, however, to review your options with your vision plan provider beforehand. Blue Cross Blue Shield members, for example, can consider this an in-network transaction. Other providers will need a little more work but most love out-of-network reimbursement claims and offer some sort of discount. The point is, you probably don’t need to pay out right for these things.

 

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