Microsoft announced that it is now shipping HoloLens 2 to customers, and it’s coming with some new features, too.
“HoloLens 2 is now shipping to customers,” Microsoft’s John Roach announced. “The sensor-packed holographic computing headset uses AI to displace space and time, creating a mixed reality of people, places and things in order to facilitate one of our most basic human impulses: exchanging knowledge.”
As you may recall, Microsoft announced HoloLens 2 back in February and as I wrote at the time, it is a significant improvement over its predecessor, with a more comfortable fit, a more natural and training-less experience, and a much better field of view: Where the initial unit was limited by a small 16:9 FOV, HoloLens 2 improves the view by about 3X, I was told this week. And I was able to get a second hands-on demo.
This new experience confirmed my positive impressions of the device. But I was surprised by two new additions. There are some new gestures based on open and turned palms, including the placement of a hologram-based Start icon on your wrist that is really neat. And an incredible new feature where you can grab a Hologram and walk around with it, twisting it in space as you go.
That latter new feature was particularly impressive because it was paired in the demo with a new “drawing” application, where you can draw three-dimensional squiggles in the air. The squiggles have depth, of course, but in addition to viewing them from any angle, you can pick them up and move around with them.
Aside from these new features, HoloLens 2 carries forward with everything that was so impressive from my initial demo, including the incredible eye- and hand-tracking systems, the lack of any latency, and the Azure Spatial Anchors functionality that shares spatial maps with others: A HoloLens 2 user can basically leave holograms at specific locations and then other users, with HoloLens headsets or AR-based apps on mobile devices, can find and interact with them as well. (Microsoft used this capability to create Minecraft Earth, for example.)