After first shipping the developer edition of HoloLens back in early 2016, Microsoft has put a lot of time and energy into the platform. And now, a successor to the original mixed reality headset is reportedly nearing a release.
That's according to The Verge, citing sources familiar with Microsoft's plans, who suggest that details surrounding HoloLens 2 are set to be revealed over the second half of 2018.
Read this: How HoloLens is being used in the operating theatre
As you might imagine, details are fairly scarce right now. However, the report does indicate that the headset will offer an improved field of view, will sit lighter on the head and be more comfortable to wear. And, perhaps more importantly, Microsoft is also planning to reduce the cost of the headset significantly in order to aid adoption from businesses.
Codenamed 'Sydney', according to Thurrott, the next Microsoft HoloLens will feature an ARM-based processor, too, meaning the battery life should be stronger than the original device. The latest generation of the Kinect sensor will also be on board, while a custom AI chip housed inside the headset in order to improve performance.
But when can we expect the refreshed headset to land? Well, as we say, details could potentially be shared before the end of the year, with the HoloLens 2 release date reportedly set for early 2019. When it does launch, it will run on a variant of Windows 10 that's designed for mixed reality use cases, just like the current headset.
Time for the next step
As we've experienced over the last year, those use cases have ramped up significantly. Alongside the Windows Mixed Reality platform, which has seen the company collaborate with the likes of Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer, HoloLens has began to make real-world waves in education, healthcare and industry.
In our time testing out its initial dips into these three areas, we've been impressed by the first steps that HoloLens has taken and the innovation it's opened up. But there is an underlying sense of, 'Okay, that's great, what's next?'.
Take the company's work with Imperial College, for example. While it's shown it can be an effective tool for medical professionals in test cases over the past year, the bigger challenge now becomes about expanding this to more hospitals and finding more areas for the technology to propel care.
And since it's areas like this which will seemingly continue to be Microsoft's point of emphasis, a lower price point and improved specs will no doubt help actually just spreading the technology around.
With all that said, it's impossible to know just how legitimate the rumours surrounding the HoloLens 2 are. We began hearing whispers regarding a 2019 release date for the updated headset as early as February 2017, and the fact this report essentially hints the same timeframe would suggest there is some truth in the claims.
Another thing to keep an eye on here, of course, is the competition. Microsoft has been out on its own, relatively speaking, in the mixed reality field for the past few years, but Magic Leap One is on the horizon and plenty of other startups are showing they can also build effective MR headsets.
It's all up in the air for now, but we're expecting to hear plenty more regarding Project Sydney over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned.
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