Microsoft has finally announced HoloLens 2, a thinner, lighter augmented reality headset with improved field of view. It's what people were hoping for - well, except for the price.
HoloLens 2 is an advanced augmented reality headset, but it's still not intended for us average consumers. It's for businesses and workers. In fact, Alex Kipman, the head of the HoloLens team, said himself that the headset is best intended for workers where computers and smartphones can't help.
So who exactly uses HoloLens and how? We've scoured industries to see who best puts it to use.
NASA is busy prepping for its 2020 Mars mission, where it'll send a rover to the Red Planet to collect samples and look for life. NASA scientists want to better understand where they're sending their rover, so they're using HoloLens.
Using data from previous Mars missions, they're recreating Mars in HoloLens so that they can better visualize the rover's journey. Sure, you can do all of this in a computer, but looking at a screen is not the same as walking around with an AR headset on.
NASA scientists also want to use data to recreate Mars in AR so that experts from around the world can hop in with HoloLens headsets and identify potential points of interests that they might miss. Even better, NASA eventually hopes to use HoloLens and its data to scout for possible locations where it can put future bases.
Building and remodeling
When you're building a structure, you need a lot of planning. A lot of that is done in 2D blueprints and with computer models, which can make it difficult for workers out at the construction site.
Trimble has made Trimble Connect, which allows construction workers to see plans using HoloLens at the site. That makes it easier for them to plan what they need to do. Additionally, architectural firm Gensler uses Sketchup Viewer on HoloLens to plan out its projects before building. This has included its own headquarters and the Banc of California Stadium in LA.
The car industry has been one of the biggest to jump into augmented reality. Volvo was one of the first companies to use HoloLens, and it both uses it for designers to make cars and for sales people to show off its cars work in showrooms.
Ford takes it a step further, allowing its designers to test any car feature with HoloLens. It can do things like see if a car mirror is too large or if the front bumper gets in the way of turning. All of the details are worked out in AR on HoloLens.
Military field training and combat
Last year Microsoft signed a new $479 million HoloLens contract with the US Military, which was protested by employees. The contract was to prototype versions of HoloLens that could be used for actual combat. Previously, the military has used it for training or field technicians.
In the future, the military could get customized versions of HoloLens that can withstand water, dust and shocks. They could be used to relay information to soldiers live on the battlefield, guide them to locations, deliver mission objectives, and even give them a quick readout of how much ammunition they have left.