Microsoft's Next-Gen HoloLens 2 AR Headset Is Now Shipping To An Elite Few

Microsoft HoloLens 2
During a presentation at the Microsoft Inspire 2019 event, Julia White, CVP of Azure Marketing, announced "the future is here" following a nifty demonstration of the HoloLens 2. And indeed it is, with regards to Microsoft's second-generation augmented reality headset—HoloLens 2 has begun shipping to select customers.

While there are many consumer AR and virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality headsets on the market, HoloLens 2 is geared more towards the enterprise and professional sectors. That is reflected the price—it costs $3,500 for the headset alone, and there are other subscription packages that include business oriented add-ons.

Microsoft HoloLens 2 Technical Specifications

HoloLens 2 Parts
Here's a recap of the HoloLens 2's technical specifications...
  • Resolution: 2K 3:2 light engines per eye
  • Holographic Density: >2.5K radiants (light points per radian)
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 SoC
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR4x
  • Storage: 64GB UFS 2.1
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac 2x2), Bluetooth 5, USB Type-C
  • Camera: 8MP stills, 1080p video
  • Speakers: Built-in, spatial audio
  • Microphone Array: 5 channels
  • Head Tracking: 4 visible light cameras
  • Eye Tracking: 2 IR cameras
HoloLens 2 is a standalone headset, meaning it is not tethered to a PC or powered by a smartphone (all of the necessary hardware is built into the device). It offers six degrees of freedom (6DoF) positional tracking and 52-degree diagonal field of view, which is "more than 2X" the area of its predecessor, with most of the growth being vertical (it's no longer 16:9).

Microsoft Demonstrates The HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2 combines mixed reality with artificial intelligence, making possible some unique interactions with the headset and the world around it.

"You can do really interesting things with HoloLens, and you can do really interesting things with the cloud," White said. "But when you see these two things come together, it changes the game in terms of what people can actually do."

In the video above, White beams a realistic looking hologram of herself on stage. Just as impressive, the hologram double delivers a speech in "perfect Japanese," even though White does not speak the language. This is where AI comes into play, and specifically a technology called neural text to speech (neural TTS).

Impressive stuff for sure, even if not aimed at consumers. And it's now shipping, so it will be interesting to see how companies leverage the HoloLens 2.