HoloLens 2 Review: Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Headset for Enterprise

Anwesha Roy

HoloLens 2 Sets the Benchmark for MR Headsets

Microsoft Reviews
HoloLens 2 Review: Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Headset for Enterprise

First launched in 2016, HoloLens was among the early entrants in the mixed reality (MR) headsets segment and the first of its kind to run the Windows MR platform. It comprises a head-mounted display unit and a front-facing visor, packed with sensors, cameras, projection lenses, and 3D audio speakers. HoloLens was meant for industry use, and HoloLens 2 continues that tradition.

HoloLens 2 was announced at the 2019 Mobile World Congress, bringing additional memory capacity, a stronger processor, better audio thanks to noise cancellation, and a more powerful camera. It is among the most popular mixed reality headsets in the enterprise bracket, which is why Microsoft recently won a $22 billion deal with the US army. There was already an existing $480 million deal with Microsoft, under which the company delivered a customised edition of HoloLens, tailored to the army’s needs. This was christened as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) solution, bundling the HoloLens hardware with Microsoft’s battle-tested expertise in catering to large-scale deployments.

At that time, the deal was so momentous that competitors and previous government contractors like ODG were forced to shut shop upon not winning the deal. Similarly, this time as well, HoloLens 2 beat out competitors like Magic Leap to finalise the partnership with the US army.

So, what makes HoloLens 2 the ideal solution for large-scale industrial use cases? Here’s our review.

Inside Microsoft HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2 is a wireless MR device that has its own OS, solutions, and application ecosystem.

Here are its key features:

  • Display – HoloLens 2 sports a pair of see-through holographic lenses, using waveguide technology to enable unidirectional light waves to pass through. This is the same as HoloLens 1, although the display resolution has been upgraded from 1280×720 to 2048×1080. This enhanced resolution spec is powered by 2k 3:2 light engines and display optimisation for 3D eye positioning.
  • Camera – HoloLens 2 has an excellent camera, at 8MP resolution for stills capturing with 1080p video. Once again, this is a significant improvement from the 2.4 MP camera on HoloLens 1 and its basic HD video capabilities. Along with the 8MP camera, you get eye-tracking for better interactivity and biometric security through iris scanning.
  • Processor and memory – Here’s where Microsoft has made a big change – HoloLens 2 runs on the mobile-optimised Qualcomm Snapdragon 850, enabling vastly improved performance when compared to the original Intel 32-bit (1GHz) setup. It has 64 GB of storage onboard like HoloLens 1, but you’re unlikely to require any more localised storage for enterprise use. HoloLens 2 has a 4GB DDR4 RAM – better than its 2 GB Gen 1 counterpart, but significantly less than the likes of Magic Leap, which sports 8GB of RAM onboard.
  • Audio and mic – HoloLens has built-in spatial sound for a truly immersive experience, and a 5-mic array for both communication and voice commands. In terms of communication, one should also mention HoloLens 2’s hand tracking c capabilities. All gestures like Bloom, Air Tap, Tap and Hold on both hands can be understood by the device. On top of this, Microsoft has added a few new gestures such as Press, Grab, Touch interaction, Scroll with wave, and even Direct manipulation.
  • Field of view – HoloLens 2 almost doubles the original field of view we saw in HoloLens 1, at 52° vs. just 30°. This means you will be able to observe more of your surroundings without too many head/neck movements, closely mimicking our real-world perception.
  • Ergonomics – Here’s where HoloLens 2 truly shines. At 566 grams, it provides a moderately comfortable wearing experience throughout the day. For users with spectacles, the headset seamlessly sits on top of them, without obstructing your vision. We liked that the front-facing visor can flip upwards, letting you quickly switch between mixed reality and real-world, hands-on tasks.

Why HoloLens 2 Makes a Difference

HoloLens 2 is a complete, end-to-end MR solution for enterprise users, backed by storage on Azure cloud and Microsoft’s premier collaboration suite. It also includes a host of developer resources to design your own, custom apps. Microsoft offers exhaustive documentation and tutorials to streamline HoloLens 2 deployments and management or IT teams.

What We Think

Barring a couple of cons (like the slightly heavy form factor and limited RAM), Microsoft HoloLens 2 promises a nearly perfect MR experience for enterprise users. A $3500 price tag places it squarely in the large enterprise segment, which is precisely the market Microsoft is targeting with the new HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition. Simply put, HoloLens 2 sets the benchmark MR experiences and brings a slew of innovative features that make it truly best-in-class.



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