At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona today Microsoft unveiled HoloLens 2, the next iteration of the company’s standalone AR headset. While HoloLens 2 purportedly boasts a 2-3 our battery life and a 70 degree field of view—two times larger than the previous HoloLens—Microsoft’s onstage demo revealed a few more improved capabilities attested to the device, namely its hand-tracking, voice input, and eye-tracking.
Julia Schwarz, a senior researcher at the company’s Mixed Reality division, took the stage to show off some prototype software built to take advantage of HoloLens 2’s hardware capabilities. As with on-stage HoloLens demos past, footage was captured with an external camera which included mixed reality & depth-sensing hardware to better visually demonstrate how a user can interact with virtual objects in their physical environment.
First showing off its improved hand-tracking with a number of interactive virtual objects, Schwarz demonstrated HoloLens 2’s full hand models by ‘touching’ windows and objects to resize them, and turning them with a simple grabbing motion. Tickling the ivories of virtual piano and playing with a number of prototype selector switches and buttons, Schwarz underlined that HoloLens 2 is made for more physical interactions than its predecessor despite the notable lack of haptic feedback or motion controllers.
Ordering a far off browser window to “follow me,” Schwarz then showed how you could keep important windows close to you as you move about the room to do other tasks. Telling the headset to “show surprise,” a humming-bird appeared, darting around to then land on her open palm when prompted.
Finally, the AR headset’s eye-tracking had its time to shine as Schwarz scrolled through a browser window by simply looking at and then dictated a message using the command “start dictation,” and following with a string of text “the humming-bird looks great – exclamation point.”
We’re here at MWC 2019 and will be going hands-on with HoloLens 2 soon, so check back for more breaking news, previews and all things AR/VR.