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Home / NewTech / HoloLens 2 is not meant for you. But HoloLens 3 might be

HoloLens 2 is not meant for you. But HoloLens 3 might be



Ask me to fix a broken car or motorbike.

But that's exactly what Microsoft wanted me to do. HoloLens 2 headset.

Afterwards, it is set to be broken at Microsoft's headquarters. There were buckets of bolts to my right side and tools to my left. Then a set of neon-blue cartoon arrows appeared, pointing at which gears.

Next, I was told to get parts from bins around the room. The blue arrow directed me to the bolt I needed, then the washer to go with it, and then to a table with the right wrench.

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Which size bolt? What type of wrench? I did not need to worry about that, because the HoloLens 2 guided me every step of the way. After about eight minutes, I was cluelessly looking at a broken ATV to marveling at my first repair job. As Keanu Reeves says "I know kung fu."

This is the promise of Microsoft's HoloLens : a computer that can help you do pretty much anything you'd use your hands for. It does this by sensing where it is in a building and then placing computer images on top of the real world. And unlike Microsoft's original HoloLens, this new headset is more comfortable and easier to use.

That makes working with HoloLens that much more immersive when you're holograms it's creating. A massive movie screen becomes a model of a new building. Or a set of instructions showing you how to bake a batch of cookies or repair an aircraft engine. And with a pair of cameras, the headset can also be a phone-a-friend, allowing anyone to see through the eyes of whoever's wearing the headset. Think about that.

"The Goal Is These Things Will Transform Human Humans," HoloLens leader Alex Kipman said in an interview at Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

"Microsoft is not crazy about thinking big about the potential of these headsets." The tech industry's brightest minds are already investing billions of dollars to develop mixed reality (or, as some call it, augmented reality). They're all betting on the way. The market for AR gear is expected to explode, from $ 6 billion last year to almost $ 200 billion by 2025, according to data compiled by Statista.

Satya Nadella said: "We do not have to just imagine it, this future is here," Microsoft at said at an event announcing the Sunday's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

A high-profile startup called Magic Leap started shipping a $ 2.2395 headset last August after working on it for seven years and raising $ 2.3 billion in investment from backers including AT & T, Facebook, which sells a $ 399 fully immersive virtual reality headset called the Oculus Rift, is working on a holoLens competitor as well. CNET may arrive in 2020.

Microsoft is opening pre-orders for the HoloLens 2 on Feb. 24 for $ 3,500.

HoloLens (the name is inspired by holograms) sounded straight out of sci-fi when it was first demoed. "We're not talking about putting you into virtual worlds," Kipman said when he introduced the device in 2015. "We're dreaming beyond virtual worlds, beyond screens, beyond pixels."

The original HoloLens, seen from the back, front-heavy, squeezed some people's heads and not always comfortable with glasses.


James Martin / CNET
                                                

But HoloLens had its problems. The original headset was hard to put on. It feels heavy at nearly 1.3 pounds, which is a little heavier than at iPad Air. The HoloLens squeezed some people's heads, too. It did not always fit over your glasses. At $ 5,000, it was expensive. And the software often needs extra setup and adjustment.

The worst part was that the holograms appeared in an area in front of you. (In AR parlance, that area's called the field of view.)

"The previous headset's field of view is its biggest drawback," said Scott Stein, CNET's senior editor for reviews, who's on more headsets than I knew existed.

So Microsoft set out to fix those problems. Kipman invited Stein, CNET Managing Editor Gabriel Sama and the company's headquarters at HoloLens 2. And to share the promise of HoloLens 3 and beyond.

Bottom line, according to Kipman: "We have a

HoloLens 2, seen from the side, is more comfortable, in part thanks to its battery being moved to the rear.


James Martin / CNET
                                                

Next act

Imagine walking through a street with a bottle of mustard, looking like the ATV directing you through the maze of aisles, straight to the condiments of your grocery list.

Or they could be directions as you walk down the street.

Instead of arrows, a HoloLens 2 could show you what new furniture would look like in your living room. Or help you read a speech without a teleprompter.

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Alex Kipman, head of Microsoft's HoloLens project, does not think his headset is ready for you.


James Martin / CNET
                                                

For Kipman, this technology is a holy grail of computers. For the past three decades, we've been trapped looking at a screen while interacting with a keyboard, mouse or controller. Even smartphones are just black screens.

These types of computers are good enough for some things, like editing audio and video, coding an app or writing a story. But for nearly anything else, Microsoft thinks mixed reality is a better alternative.

That's because researchers are finding that HoloLens may be the way we communicate, too. In one experiment at Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, a person in an empty room but through the HoloLens what to talk to a photorealistic AR character.

"It was jaw-dropping," said Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication who runs the lab.

Different world

Mixed reality systems like HoloLens and Magic Leap are not the only tech-based technologies. There's virtual reality, in which heads you hold a screen so close to your eyes that you're tricked into thinking you're in the computer-generated world. After decades of VR development, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg helped legitimize the technology when it was over $ 3 billion for then-startup Oculus.

Though the market is still nascent, people are using VR for immersive training (looking like a soldier in a war zone), watching movies and playing video games. You can buy at Oculus Rift for $ 349, at HTC Vive for $ 499 or a Sony PlayStation VR for $ 299.

James Martin / CNET.

The Magic Leap goggles look like they came from a steampunk future.


James Martin / CNET
                                                

MR headsets, meanwhile, are radically different from company to company. The Magic Leap One is made up of three devices, including a headset called Lightwear, which uses technology similar to that of HoloLens to overlay computer-generated images on the real world. But unlike HoloLens, Lightwear is powered by a hockey puck-size computer called the LightPack, which has enough computing power to generate realistic-looking 3D images. The computer connects to the headset by a corduroy and has it in its middle, so it straddles your pocket and air can circulate around it and cool it down.

We know Apple is secretly developing a headset, but we do not know much about its design, other than that it's powered by Apple-designed chips Wirelessly Talks To A Computer And Uses Supersharp Displays.

The only thing MR companies are looking for. Magic Leap's device was released to the future, with a consumer version promised for sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Microsoft says it's focusing on business uses, even though it initially pitched HoloLens as a way to get work done and play games like its world-building phenom minecraft. Now the company is saying HoloLens is an easy way to transport employees anywhere in the world. Or a way for a worker to do something complex without having to learn the process.

Kipman describes it as giving people superpowers.

Finding a better fit

HoloLens 2 may not be ready for you and me, but it's a markedly better device than its predecessor.

The first HoloLens was bulky. All the computing power concentrated in front, along with the amalgam of cameras, motion sensors and microphones that help you understand where you are, what you're doing with your hands and what you're saying. It squeezed on your head and, if you wore glasses like stone or me, it was uncomfortable to wear for a few minutes.

To solve this problem, Microsoft turned to its Human Factors Engineering Lab. The group, housed in a nondescript building on the moscow campus in 2015, and with $ 44 million in funding, has created what is believed to be the best way to build people.

Carl Ledbetter, senior director of design for Microsoft's Device Design Team, starting my tour of the lab by oversizing Xbox video game controller sitting on a table by the entrance. It's heavier than the Xbox controllers, and I found it harder to reach all the buttons.

"You," he said, "are five years old."

The oversize controller is a tool to help engineers understand all the people who use their devices, including kids. Microsoft has taken a similar approach with HoloLens 2.

HoloLens 2's weight around your head to move the battery to the back in A pack about the size of a tin of Altoids. That helped make it comfortable – it's like slipping on a baseball cap.

Not all our heads are the same, though. So Microsoft spent a year scanning more than 600 people's heads using a machine with 36 interlinked cameras surrounding each other. Ultimately, these scans helped Microsoft understand different body types for men and women, short to tall, big to small. Some people have higher cheeks, lower noses or bigger bumps at the back of their head. Microsoft wanted the HoloLens 2 to fit 95 percent of them. (Sorry, Hodor.)

"It's not just a matter of scaling head sizes," Ledbetter said. "Everyone's head is different."

The HoloLens 2 has sensors that scan your eyes. This helps you identify who you are, so you can share a headset with multiple people.

And if you need to take the holoLens off to chat with someone in

"Once the first mockup was built, it was like," Wow, we've got to do that, "http: // the real world, you flip it up, like putting a pair of glasses on your forehead. www.cnet.com/ "Ledbetter said" It was a delighter. "

A new view

The most dramatic change with HoloLens 2, though, is the field of view, or how much hologram you see the first HoloLens,

For HoloLens 2, Microsoft more than doubled the area where you can see them. 19659066] http://www.cnet.com/ ” height=”109″ width=”194″/>


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In HoloLens 1, holograms were created by reflecting images from a tiny screen in the headset into specially made lenses for red, blue and green light waves.

In HoloLens 2, the tiny screen has been replaced by a mirror known as a MEMS that moves almost enough to create the illusion of a screen in space. The MEMS creates 120 screens each second, filtered to your eye through new, sleeker lenses in the headset. The result is smooth movement, more-believable animation and quick response.

Most importantly, there's much more area for the holograms to show up.

Before Microsoft started using MEMS technology, some executives thought it would be better to read the HoloLens field of view. "It was a significant engineering problem," said Zulfi Alam, a general manager who worked on the displays and screens of the HoloLens.

Kipman called the new approach to a "miracle."

I could see the result.

Unusual inspiration

One reason Microsoft says HoloLens 2 is not good enough for everyday people. Some people believe the killer app, or must-have feature, of HoloLens and Magic Leap wants to replace all the screens in our homes. We'd just slap on a headset and see them as holograms.

Kipman is not convinced. It's like thinking of a car as a "horseless buggy," he says. Instead, HoloLens is a monitor and keyboard do not work. X-ray of a patient overlaid on the body.

"It's $ 150,000 and makes it 40 percent more efficient, that's $ 60,000 a year," said Jim Hippleman, CEO of business software maker PTC, whose software works with the HoloLens. "I'll buy $ 5,000 devices all day long."

Despite the excitement, this could still be all-busty. Remember Google Glass?

 Google Glass

Google Glass made waves when it was released in 2012


Sarah Tew / CNET
                                                

When Glass was announced in 2012, people predicted that the smart eyewear would be similar to what's expected for HoloLens.

So Intel had a smart-glasses initiative, which launched in 2013, but the company shut down on the project last year after struggling to find partner companies. And Osterhout Design Group, whose smart glasses were the talk of CES in 2017, shut down, and its patents were sold last month.

These setbacks do not worry Paul Bettner . Words With Friends, who later made high-profile VR game called Lucky's Tale. Eventually, Bettner and other techies say, devices like the HoloLens wants to shrink down to the size of normal glasses, at which point they become a part of everyday life.

just like they did with smartphones. "You could not have gone to the iPhone," he said.

HoloLens is not Kipman's first attempt at changing the way we interact with computers. That was Project Natal, an accessory designed for Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console that could track your body as you moved in front of it. It was this by blanketing a room with thousands of infrared dots, and then using a camera to map where they land.

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The Kinect for the Xbox 360 video game console helped inspire Apple's FaceID, Windows Hello and HoloLens.


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The Kinect, as it was later named, was so popular in the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest-selling consumer gadget up to that point (Apple's iPad nabbed the title in 2011).

"The inspiration really could've just mated a human into the gameplay," Kipman said at the time.

Kinects 35 million, but the device fizzles out as developers struggled to find ways to use it in their games. Still, the tech helped inspire Face ID and animoji on Apple's iPhones, face-unlock for Windows PCs and, of course, HoloLens.

Today, Microsoft's enthusiasm for MR is contagious. $ 270.8 million this year, nearly double the investment in companies making similar VR software, according to Nielsen's SuperData Research.

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For now Microsoft is keeping HoloLens 2 just out of reach.


James Martin / CNET
                                                

The future

The holoLens 2, Kipman is looking ahead to a couple of years to bring HoloLens 3.

He demurred When asked about details, other than to promise it'll be even more comfortable, easier to use and more than what's available now. Whatever the details are, Kipman said they were "willing to invest $ 480 million in more than $ 100,000 headsets to increase the lethality of the ability to detect, and engage, the enemy," according to a government filing .

HoloLens does not want the vying for space on your head. There's still Magic Leap, and Apple's unannounced headset. By 2022, "tens of millions" of these things have been sold, said Tim Merel, managing director of market watcher Digi-Capital.

For now, though, Kipman plans to keep HoloLens just out of reach for you and me. "I have no interest in overhyping these products," he said. [Iwantyoutobehappytoannounceaconsumerproduct"

Until then, you'll just have to wait. Unless you need to repair ATV.

CNET's Scott Stein and Gabriel Sama contributed to this article.

Mobile World Congress 2019


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