In the future, 3D digital objects will blend seamlessly with the physical world, and Microsoft takes another step towards finding it there.
The company has made significant improvements to its HoloLens handsets with mixed reality, including expanding the field of vision, allowing cloud connectivity and lowering the price.
He introduced the second-generation device with new design and capabilities that the first users required as they launched the first iteration a few years ago.
HoloLens is Microsoft's answer to the expanded reality – a technology that lends itself much to the virtual reality.
The headset has a viewfinder that goes through your eyes and lets you see and interact with holograms in the real world by overlaying the display on the physical environment and understanding where the surfaces are to be placed accordingly.
"We listened to your feedback and you asked about three things," says Alex Kipman, head of Microsoft's Mixed Reality at the launch of the World Mobile Congress this morning.
In general, what people wanted was a bigger dip, more convenience and faster chronology for using useful holographic applications for their work.
The field of vision of the new device is more than twice as large as that of first-generation HoloLens. The narrow field of view of the original headphones is the biggest concern among the first adopters.
"The most important aspect of immersion depends on how many holographic details there are," said Cipman for an effort to improve the quality of the immersive experience.
HoloLens has 47 pixels of visibility, and Microsoft manages to achieve this while "doubling" the field of view. According to Mr. Kidman, the upgrade is "the equivalent of moving 720p on 2K television for each of your eyes."
– Nick Wiggam (@NWWhigham) February 24, 2019
There are also improvements in how users can interact with holograms. Instead of simply dealing with menus and hand gestures and basic push gestures, they have improved the ability to manipulate virtual objects "by letting you experience the first time what it is to touch a hologram," Kidman said.
In addition to gestures, you can now better interact with holograms such as pushing buttons, pinching, grasping and rotation of the subject, and even doing things like playing piano.
In combination with voice recognition (you can get commands to call you) and eye gestures, Microsoft says that HoloLens 2 is designed for "instinctive interactions."
HoloLens 2 has iris-based authentication and signs you when you place it. It also recognizes your hands and is calibrated according to their size.
It also works to improve comfort, including scanning the heads of thousands of people to use data to improve ergonomic design. He also reduced weight by making the front body entirely carbon fiber and altering the weight distribution "to make the device feel head-to-head," said Kidman.
But perhaps the most important development is combining headphones with Microsoft's cloud technology, Azure. This, says Microsoft, will allow for the birth of a "Hologram Internet".
In a demonstration on the scene this morning, two users shared a virtual workspace, and when they wanted to add a holographic object, they could simply say the word, combined with a gesture of the hand, and several generic variants would be produced in the middle of the air. It was like Google Images, but for holograms.
Cloud connection also allows real-time integration of things like live data transmission.
Instead of a user gadget, HoloLens is geared towards the business sector, with Microsoft aiming to expand applications in industrial and work places as well as in the classroom.
Highly defined procedures are a type of task the device needs to improve, allowing programs to pass through the user and see the end result.
"Imagine a future when every construction worker can see what their design will look like in two weeks or even two years," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadela.
"Or the pupils in the classroom who can see historical objects as the teacher describes them."
Those who dealt with the first HoloLens had to build the appropriate programs to help them do their jobs, but Microsoft makes it easier for consumers to get immediate value by launching a range of holographic solutions ranging from healthcare to architecture and production.
"Immediate value for physicians, immediate value for architects, immediate value for mechanics," said Kidman.
The company has also begun Dynamic 365 Guides to help overcome skills shortages and ease the widespread use of learning by providing customer training experiences.
Despite the exciting excitement among developers and technology savvy consumers, the first HoloLens failed to make a lasting spray. The sales were not big, and it seemed that the mixed reality technology was not entirely ready to be fully accepted.
However, there are many examples of where mixed-glasses change old tasks. For example, thanks to MIT University, masonry makers in Victoria use the headphones to visualize, manage and build projects.
There are two reasons why Microsoft has not positioned it as a user device. Despite the exciting technology in the game, it's really not meant for gaming or entertainment purposes. Second, the first HoloLens was far from the cheap of $ US5000 ($ AU7000).
But Microsoft has significantly reduced the price to $ US3500 ($ AU4900) and also used part of the event this morning to advertise the potential of future game applications.
The significant drop in prices and other improvements made in HoloLens pave the way for a consumer-friendly future and will certainly give him the best chance to dominate the expanded reality market in the coming years.
This is certainly not a device for madmen, but it may be the future.
The author travels to Barcelona as a guest of Microsoft.