Microsoft began shipping its latest AR headset, HoloLens 2 in November. After a slow initial rollout, devices are getting out into the hands of more developers and reports have surfaced that many units are exhibiting significant color-consistency issues. Microsoft has acknowledged the problems and says its working with customers to understand the cause.

HoloLens 2 is Microsoft’s latest AR headset, boasting a larger field of view, greater resolution, and improved hand-tracking compared to the original HoloLens.

While the original headset wasn’t exactly know for a high level of color-consistency, several HoloLens 2 units that we’ve seen appear to be much worse off, showing an obvious rainbow-like pattern over virtual imagery displayed by the headset.

A through-the-lens view of HoloLens 2 | Image courtesy Reddit user hegemonbill

It’s unclear how widespread the issue is, but Microsoft confirmed that it’s aware of the problem and working to identify the cause. A Microsoft spokesperson shared the following with Road to VR:

“Microsoft continues to invest and innovate in the field of display technology. Microsoft HoloLens 2 contains a new type of display that more than doubles the field of view of the original HoloLens and is the result of a set of balanced display trade-offs. We are aware of reports from some developers experiencing issues with their displays and we’re working closely with them to understand the underlying cause.”

HoloLens creator Alex Kipman responded to a twitter user who posted pictures of the color-consistency issue.

In a string of tweets Kipman said that photos of the headset’s display through a camera wouldn’t look accurate because the headset incorporates eye-tracking into its display. He also encouraged those with issues to reach out to contact him:

Friends, we have a binocular system that forms an image at the back of your eyes not in front of it. Eye tracking is fully in the loop to correct comfort which also includes color.

Eye relief (the distance from lens to your pupil) changes the image quality. Further out you are, worse the image quality becomes in terms of MTF as well as color uniformity.

Taking monocle pictures from a phone (or other camera) is completely outside of our spec and not how the product is experienced.

When you look at it with both eyes, at the right eye relief (somewhere between 12-30 mm from your eyes) with eye tracking turned on, you experience something very different.

If you are having issues experiencing our product, first our apologies, second please get a hold of us (akipman@microsoft.com is your friend) and let’s engage on how we can solve your issues. Team is fully leaned in and listening.

Granted, in all five or so of the HoloLens 2 units which I’ve personally tried, it was immediately apparent that the colors across the display were highly inconsistent, which was the impetus for asking Microsoft if they were aware of the issue. With a $3,500 price tag, I can understand why developers getting headsets with this issue would be concerned.

On the plus side, HoloLens 2 seems to be everything else that Microsoft has promised with regards to improved field of view, resolution, and hand-tracking. It also seems to have exceptional ergonomics (when used with the top strap) thanks to its light weight, balanced design, and large eyebox.

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  • mellott124

    Some or all?

    • gothicvillas

      All 3 of them

  • sfmike

    Anyone really surprised at a buggy Microsoft product?

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  • Tom Allen

    This sounds like the experience is dependent on an individual’s eyes — different people will have a different experience. How widely is this color problem experienced?

    Has the author had radial keratotomy surgery, for instance?

    • TL

      I’ve use two different Hololens 2 headsets, and I see this dirty rainbow pattern on both of them. I have 20/20 vision and have never had any eye surgery.

      The colors I see are about 1/2 to 1/3 as intense as the images above. They are very distracting when looking at large light colored menus/web pages, but they are less obtrusive when viewing 3d models.

    • It’s dependant on the individual waveguide sample and has nothing to do with eyes. They have crappy repeatability and serious yield problems.

  • Finally they have admitted the problem! It was a quite absurd situation when they negated it

  • “Microsoft continues to invest and innovate in the field of display technology.”

    There was absolutely no innovation here, neither from Microsoft, nor from Microvision, who’s the actual OEM behind the Hololens’ 2 display. It’s the same tech Microvision has been peddling for about 10 years now, coupled with very standard – and very crappy – waveguides.

    The fact Microsoft keeps obscuring this fact with marketing fluff like “Holograms”, “Light Guide Technology”, and doing their hardest to scratch out any mention of Microvision anywhere in their materials just goes to prove how dishonest everything about this product is.

  • Ray Slowik

    I have 7 gen 1’s and 14 gen2’s. none of the gen 1’s exhibit this issue and all of the gen 2’s have this problem to one degree or another. I’m sure you have recognized that the color shifting pattern exhibited is purely display related. The rainbow blooming pattern which begins at the bottom ad curves to the middle out sides of the displays is consistent with polarized light strain viewers and other polariscopic images. The fact that the mems display incorporates time division multiplexed linear polarization as the basis of the display allows for this polarized light to interact with the plastic of the display shield or wave guides. Any unrelieved stresses from manufacturing present in the display shield or wave guide plastic would then be visible as a color shifted interference pattern which appears to be the occurrence in all of these HoloLenses.

    The whites shift toward the red/purple end of the spectrum the closer the image is to the side of the viewer, the point of propagation is the bottom center with the radial focus being on the bottom outer corners. The fact the patterns are not tightly banded indicates the amount of residual or unrelieved stress is not great but the stress is there and causes difficulty in seamlessly using these devices.

    Has anyone receieved a gen 2 that does not exhibit this problem?
    has anyone recieved replacement devices due to this issue?