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Long before Microsoft’s mixed reality glasses, the HoloLens, were introduced to in the second half of 2016, we at Ergosign had already taken a closer look at exciting new interaction possibilities in selected customer projects and internal research projects, and developed our first scenarios. There is a lot of potential in mixed reality!
Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors limiting the final productive application so far has been the technical framework conditions offered by the available hardware. This is set to change. At this year’s MWC (Mobile World Congress), Microsoft presented the long-awaited successor of their HoloLens mixed reality glasses, the HoloLens 2!
According to Microsoft, two of the largest “pain points” up to now have been significantly improved. Firstly, the field of view, which had previously been too small, has more than doubled in the new model. And without sacrificing quality, as the resolution has remained at 47 pixels per degree. Secondly, the HoloLens 2 features a different, more balanced center of gravity so it’s much more ergonomic to wear on the head.
Thanks to the use of carbon, the new device is lighter. And the built-in flip visor means that the user can very easily switch between mixed reality and the “real world” without having to take the glasses off.
This feature will surely prove its worth in everyday use, especially regarding visual safety inspections of physical components. In addition, the HoloLens 2 is fully equipped with an integrated LTE modem as well as the existing WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. This should make future use in maintenance scenarios considerably less dependent on isolated company networks. Microsoft has stated that battery life remains unchanged at two to three hours.
As well as new hardware, the HoloLens 2 also comes with a few very interesting new software features. Thanks to the AI-based evaluation of the new time-of-flight deep sensors, physical objects can be identified much more precisely. The holograms can now be placed within the space much more naturally, while very precise hand and finger recognition allows better interaction with them. The improved user experience is also found in the new and additional gestures that now allow much more natural and intuitive operation of the holographic UI. The user can now interact with buttons, for example, not just using the previously established but not exactly intuitive click gesture, the airtap (the rapid tapping of thumb and index finger within the HoloLens field of view), but also using natural pointing or pushing movements on the virtual objects. In future, objects within the virtual space can be gripped, newly positioned or instinctively scaled at the corners with both hands very intuitively. Biometric authentication can be ensured by newly integrated eye-tracking sensors. Holograms can therefore follow the user’s eye movements or, for example, consciously be placed in the space outside of the field of view.
As has become the unfortunate norm in the industry, Microsoft has not yet announced the exact date of the HoloLens 2’s release.
We have already placed our pre-order with Microsoft, and are excited to try out the changes for ourselves as well as start using them in exciting projects for our customers.
If you’d like to get an insight into our previous mixed reality projects with the first generation of HoloLens, you can take a look at our case study and the video on our multi-award-winning mixed reality showcase in an industrial context.