Microsoft Hints At ‘More Realistic, Awesome’ HoloLens With Sub $1,000 Pricing

It has now been two years since Microsoft first introduced HoloLens, a set of goggles that meshes the real world with virtual 3D elements. The technology is called augmented reality and outside of Pokemon Go and a handful of nifty demos, we've yet to see to how truly awesome the experience can be. Part of the reason is the hardware. Two years later, HoloLens is still a $3,000 development kit, though that won't be the case forever.

Alex Kipman, the Brazilian-born Microsoft executive who invented HoloLens, talked with CNET about his creation and some of the future plans surrounding it. He said that HoloLens is now in nine different countries and is headed to China, which he finds "super interesting" because that is the first place where HoloLens will go mainstream. The challenge, of course, is getting HoloLens down to a more palatable price point for consumers.


"It's all complicated. How do you manufacture it at that scale with high yields to hit this price point? You know devices of this kind existed a few years ago for hundreds of thousands of dollars. So how do you do something that's like, 10 times better and hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of product for $3,000? So yes, it's all complicated and delicious," Kipman said.

Be that as it may, most consumers aren't willing to spend several thousand dollars on an AR headset, not when high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive cost $799 and $599, respectively. The good news here is that Kipman confirmed there are plans to introduce a consumer version of HoloLens, one that is not a development kit. As for when, he's not ready to dish out the details. However, he did hint at it being less than $1,000 when it does arrive.

"I can say it's a consumer product tomorrow because I can remove the dev kit thing, [but] the $3,000 thing is going to get in the way of it becoming a mass market consumer product. You have to reduce the price point until it's affordable to the majority of the populous of Earth, which will be under a $1,000 and then some to get there. Roadmaps for both of those things exist today, but I'm not going to announce or talk about it today," Kipman added.

Whatever comes to market as a consumer product will not be a gimped version of the developer kit, either. Microsoft is hard at work improving HoloLens. Kipman says the most important things are increasing immersion and making the goggles more comfortable. He acknowledges that both goals imply a price increase, but insists he can accomplish both without that happening. That's because innovation and product maturity work in his favor.

"HoloLens will always remain our highest watermark product in the system, and we'll keep ratcheting it up to more and more realistic, awesome, intelligent, delicious things," Kipman said.

We can hardly wait.