Microsoft is the most seasoned of the major augmented reality players, having released its HoloLens headset long before Apple and Google started experimenting with the medium through smartphones.
And while the first generation is now beginning to justify its existence in the classroom, in the operating theatre, on the battlefield and within industry, there's still a long road to travel before it can be considered the go-to AR headset
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There's also more competition on the horizon. All members of the big four (Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple) are working on rival headsets, which could ship with stronger specs and more affordable price points than HoloLens. Plus, there's a number of upstarts looking to shake up AR including Magic Leap, North and Snap.
It's why an updated version of the device is almost certainly set to land sooner rather than later. So, journey with us, reader, as we dive into the rumored features, design and price of HoloLens 2, and even offer a word on when it could be released.
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Microsoft HoloLens 2: Design and features
It's been over four years since Microsoft first unveiled HoloLens, so it's fair to expect some level of change when it comes to the capabilities of the next generation.
And thanks to various industry whispers, we already have some fairly definitive details on what will power the headset. According to a report from The Verge, the headset will allegedly offer an improved field of view, will sit lighter on the head and also be more comfortable to wear. Of course, as we say, since it's been a while since HoloLens was initially developed, this is the least we can expect from a reworked edition.
Perhaps the more interesting information comes from Thurrott, who indicates that the project for HoloLens 2 is codenamed ‘Sydney', and that the final design will be powered by an ARM-based processor. That means it'll offer a more powerful experience than the original, while battery life should also be vastly improved.
That performance will also be aided, according to Engadget, by Qualcomm's recently-announced XR1 chip. The processor has been built specifically for creating strong VR and AR experiences, with the big Q's technology able to help deliver directional audio, 3D overlays and 4K video at 60 frames per second.
As you might expect, a modified version of Windows 10 is also expected to be running. However, what we don't know, really, is how the actual look of the device will compare to the original. Expect more leaks in the lead-up to any official word from Microsoft, but for now we're left to speculate.
Microsoft HoloLens 2: Price
Despite the futuristic features, the price of HoloLens has always been the elephant in the room. The developer edition of the device still rests at $3,000, while the version running full Commercial Suite sits at $5,000.
That's a long way away from the price tags we're likely to see from consumer-focused devices reportedly being planned by rivals, but Microsoft's target with HoloLens has pretty much always rested primarily within business.
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And according to reports, the price is set to be slashed significantly, in order to make adoption for businesses more viable. We're not expecting a three-figure sum – that feels a bit optimistic – but it's not too big of a stretch, we feel, to speculate that HoloLens 2 could come in at around half the price of the original.
Microsoft HoloLens 2: Release date
But when will we actually see the HoloLens 2? Well, HoloLens creator Alex Kipman recently posted a teaser video that appears to show off some circuits and carbon fiber. There's no mention of HoloLens or even augmented reality, but the fact that Kipman posted it is a strong indicator.
The video ends with the word ‘Barcelona' in flashing letters following by the date '24-02-19′, the date of Microsoft's MWC 2019 keynote. The keynote will see CEO Satya Nadella, CVP Julia White and, most interestingly, Kipman in attendance. Connecting the dots, it's pretty easy to see that HoloLens 2 is getting a reveal.
It's not quite clear when we could see HoloLens 2 released, but sometime during 2019 seems a safe bet. In fact, perhaps a developer edition could be ready to go sometime in early 2019.