At the Mobile World Congress 2019, Microsoft came out swinging. They announced the second iteration of their mixed-reality headset, the Microsoft HoloLens. It is aptly named the HoloLens 2.
The new headset will cost US $3,500 but will only be available to companies - and not consumers - for now. The HoloLens is a head-mounted (wearable) technology that integrates 3D virtual elements within the field of view of the wearer.
The HoloLens only weighs 1.25lbs (0.57kg) and fits comfortably on the head. On the back of the wearer's head lies the battery and processor. On the front, a flip-up visor fitted with very sophisticated technology that has been tweaked to give the wearer a wider field of view than its predecessor.
The new display technology in the current HoloLens employes is a novelty designed by Microsoft. Each eye sees a resolution of 2K. The new Lens uses lasers which projects the images onto mirrors that are spinning at 54,000 revolutions per second. The mirrors reflect the images being projected onto a slate of glass placed in front of the eyes of the wearer.
General Manager of Optics Engineering at Microsoft, Zulfi Alam, said: “There’s no competition for the next two or three years that can come close this level of fidelity.”
Equipped for the industrial and education future
Microsoft says for now they are aiming to test the technology with workers in ‘auto shops' and on ‘factory floors' and ‘operating rooms.' Microsoft has partnered up with a company named PTC. The company is at the forefront of digital transformation solutions through its utilization of the Industrial Internet of Things.
The HoloLens can simulate in real time engineering processes that might have taken many weeks and many prototypes later. The HoloLens allows engineers to see 3D CAD software feedback in real time, simulating an engineering process or product without actually having to produce it physically.
On factory floors, preventing downtime is imperative. PTC says that innovative technologies like the Internet of Things and mixed reality (MR) can help manufacturers ‘monitor and service their smart, connected products.’ On their website, they write:
“Industrial IoT data enables manufacturers to monitor the condition of their smart, connected products so they can accurately predict optimal maintenance and service times that will have the least impact on operations.”
On the front of the HoloLens, a spatial mapping sensor scans the room the wearer is in so that it can accurately and proportionately project the 3D objects in augmented reality. This makes it especially useful for engineers who want to see where large machinery will go on a manufacturing floor.
The act of simulating engineering processes and products in mixed reality is particularly noteworthy for its positive spin-offs for engineering education and training in the future. Students and in-training engineers in engineering industries can see learn through the technology to perform practical tasks in real-world scenarios.
Bohn, Dieter. “Microsoft's HoloLens 2: a $3,500 Mixed Reality Headset for the Factory, Not the Living Room.” The Verge, The Verge, 24 Feb. 2019, www.theverge.com/2019/2/24/18235460/microsoft-hololens-2-price-specs-mixed-reality-ar-vr-business-work-features-mwc-2019.
Kaminsky, Greg. “Enhancing the Customer Experience with IoT-Driven Mixed Reality.” PTC, PTC, www.ptc.com/en/thingworx-blog/iot-driven-mixed-reality.