Despite some reports last year suggesting that Microsoft may have discontinued HoloLens, the company has affirmed its work on a new version of the AR headset.

Back in July of 2017, HoloLens’ Director of Science, Marc Pollefeys, wrote that the company was working on a new version of HoloLens’ so-called “HPU” (holographic processing unit) chip, which is the nerve center for the headset’s many external sensors. Deep within that announcement was the subtle mention that the newer chip is “designed to work in the next version of HoloLens.”

The next month, a number of tech sites picked up the story that Intel was discontinuing the CPU used in HoloLens, and that Himax, another company believed to be making parts for HoloLens, stopped receiving orders for the parts. Some took these signals to mean that HoloLens was on its way to being discontinued entirely.

Image courtesy Microsoft

But HoloLens, still the only widely available AR headset today, has been going strong, and perhaps even accelerating—Microsoft has been expanding HoloLens’ availability ever since, now offering it for sale in 41 countries, and recently debuting options for rentals and even a certified hard hat offering.

If it wasn’t clear from the company’s momentum, HoloLens visionary Alex Kipman today affirmed that plans for a new version of HoloLens haven’t changed:

We announced last July that the next version of HoloLens will further incorporate AI into our custom silicon in the HoloLens the Holographic Processing Unit or HPU for short. This continues our journey of enabling computers to truly perceive their environments, and we’re just beginning. The computing power delivered by the cloud is one of the catalysts accelerating AI, and this is the year that the mixed reality cloud becomes real. Cloud-assisted AI for understanding physical objects is happening today. Combining this with mixed reality will enable us to deliver persistent mixed reality experiences with people, places, and things. [our emphasis]

The company says that the new, custom, HPU chip will include an AI co-processor which is designed to efficiently run deep neural networks, which are algorithms for pattern recognition and machine learning (and potentially key to solving some of the biggest challenges facing AR today).

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Given the premise of Kipman’s blog post, ‘What to expect for Mixed Reality in 2018’, he may even be hinting that we’re likely to see a ‘HoloLens 2’ headset this year.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • NooYawker

    If nothing else, Magic Leap will get MS’s ass moving and dedicate more time and energy into Hololens.

    • kalqlate

      Indeed. Plus efforts by Apple, Facebook and others in this arena. I’d say 2022 will be the time frame of affordable and highly functional AR/MR. From there forward, things get really grand.

      • Bespin

        apple seriously?

        • kalqlate
          • Bespin

            You mean one and done ARkit and Animoji 5 minute fun?
            See 3dtouch and heartbeats too

          • kalqlate

            No. I mean like, keep your arrogance and ignorance. They look good on you.

          • daveinpublic

            Haha, if you want to list Apple’s actions, you’ve got to list a lot more than that. If that was all they’ve done, how is it that they’re more successful than the company you like? Whichever one that is?

          • Bespin

            people are stupid see pet rock and aol…fads that end apple will to

          • Harry Cox

            The Nintendo 3DS already has an AR device. Whoopie nothing. Apple as of now are quite behind the pack

          • kalqlate

            Key phrase: “as of now”. BTW, I’m no Apple fanboy and own not one Apple product nor plan to.

    • Bespin

      Think it was the other way around

      Magic Leap reminds me of Segway ..meh

  • Well, as far as I know, there has never been a doubt that Microsoft was working on a HoloLens 2. And I’ve read the post of Kipman, it says nothing special.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    I would love to see a Hololens with bigger field of view, and maybe more solid outdoor use . It seemed to fade away to zero when I was outdoors for visibility, and it would be nice if the image could tilt when you tilt your head, because seeing the screen tilt when you tilt your head is very disorientating.

  • oompah

    & the price
    drop dead
    me happy with 4$ cardboard
    thumbs up google
    All i need is street view

    • sebrk

      Yeah that is not the same thing though. Not usre what you are doing here when you are happy with a cardboard.

      • oompah

        Me watching the revolution
        but I believe that
        all revolutions start with cardboards
        when czars lose their heads to them

  • Bespin

    HoloLens 2 was developed and shelved due to “lack of competition” immediate continuance onto version 3..this is HoloLens 3

    • Michael

      So can I expect a generational leap or are they just going to try and surpass Magic Leap and leave it at that? They don’t have forever because Apple is due in 2019-2021 and they may one-up both of them.

      In the end, I’m waiting for consumer AR so it has to be smaller and a wider FOV.

      • Bespin

        Apple does not have the capability to beat HoloLens and the windows 10 backbone. Enterprise is where money is made and Apple is NOT Enterprise focused,

        No one wants to think about a device for AR/MR, it’ll eventually just be ambient with no need for special glasses, that requires extreme processing power and Apple does not have what it takes.

        Apple is good at stand alone devices, AR/MR is anti-device

        • NooYawker

          Any company with Billions of dollars is capable of building whatever it decides to. To think a company with a few 100 billion of cash lying around can’t do something is childish and is definitely a fanboy comment pointing fingers at other fanboys.

          • ipollute

            I don’t think you understood what bespin is saying. Microsoft is too embedded as an Enterprise company, apple is not. 95% of all companies run windows based systems, not apple. Hololens can be easily integrated, apple just doesn’t have that market share. That’s like saying windows can build a competitive smartphone that can rival the iPhone. Ohhh, wait they did try…. And failed. Apple has it’s strengths and Enterprise isn’t their forte.

          • NooYawker

            You make a more coherent argument. And anyone who’s ever put macs on a windows network knows you’re right. But seeing AR as the successor to smartphones years from now, don’t discount Apple on the consumer level.

            PS. MS could have made one more push with a surface phone. I thought they were and I would have bought it.

          • Bespin

            Appl has 168B or so that is mostly for shareholders (stock buybacks to keep the stock price from a full on decline) people act as IF apple can just buy stuff they cannot. Look at their major acquisitions for guidance see beats

          • daveinpublic

            They have more money lying around than Magic Leap, and Magic Leap has AR glasses. They have more money than PiMax, and PiMax has a the highest resolution headset. I think you may need to take some medication, or stop taking it. Instead of twisting your brain to hate Apple, why not buy one of their products? The only people who lose are the ones who hate companies that other companies want you to hate.

          • Bespin

            they don’t have the talent see x see homepod , the best programmers on the planet work for Microsoft same for researchers

  • The only people AR glasses are for is the wealthy, the rich and businesses.

    • sntxrrr

      You can replace “AR glasses” with any tech in the innovator/early-adopter phase…

  • Veron

    I don’t think anyone really thought Microsoft was giving up on Hololens as a device family.

  • Nobody

    Wasn’t for 2019?
    >There’s no official word from Microsoft on when to expect the second iteration of HoloLens, although the Verge contends its due out sometime in 2019.

    • Bespin

      2019 will be a HUUUUUUGE year for Microsoft

  • Ian Shook

    As much as I disliked the hololens, I’m excited for the next version. Bigger FOV would be my hope. Tracking seemed good enough, but could always be improved. I’d actually prefer a better UI and gesture recognition over improved graphics. Inputting anything on the hololens was tiring, annoying, and clunky.

    • Michael Hildebrand

      Um, I find it’s voice input to be very easy to use and develop with…