After reviewing the recent Nreal Light, our team of AR specialists, who used to work with the best AR technologies and devices, wanted to share a little “hands-on” HoloLens 2 Mixed Reality headset produced by Microsoft. As we’ve already worked with HoloLens 1 and recently created an MR experience for sports broadcast on HoloLens 2, see more about this technological gem by reading our team’s review.
HoloLens 2 design: lighter and so comfortable
Everything about the Mixed Reality headset has been significantly improved since HoloLens 1. The entire team was impressed by the step above, as the HoloLens 1 was heavy and not easy to wear during hours. HoloLens 2 design has been completely reworked, Microsoft placed the Qualcomm 855 SOC and battery at the rear of the device while the sensors and camera remain in the front. As a result, the headset is considered as one of the most comfortable on the market by our team.
”Hololens 1 was very heavy on the nose. They fixed that issue by putting the computer unit on the back of the head, which makes it very well balanced and comfortable. On the new version, you can also fold up the lenses which is very pleasant if you need to keep natural human interactions while wearing the device.ThomasUX/UI Designer at Immersiv.io
Comparing to what types of AR device is expected soon in the AR/MR market, i.e. literally light glasses, HoloLens 2 remains a headset but so comfortable that it is like wearing a cap, or large glasses, that perfectly sticks to the head thanks to the adjustable wheel.
Content rendering & quality: Another step forward
The field of view (FOV) has been really improved compared to the first version, which is really great and enhances the immersion when displaying content. The first HoloLens had roughly a 30-degree FOV, which felt like viewing virtual objects through a “small square screen in front of the eyes”. The HoloLens 2 expands its FOV to 54 degrees diagonally.
”3D content rendering is amazing and very picky. The field of view is very good, and compared to HoloLens 1, they added a fade on the side of the field of view that let you feel more immersed.KilianUnity Developer at Immersiv.io
The company said it had also improved the display’s resolution, from a 720p high-definition image to a 2K one for each eye. AR content rendering is quite good but still has some areas for improvement: the colors are sometimes a bit off or not perfectly compliant, and the holograms could have a deeper opacity.
Hands Gestures system: The most impressive system yet done
What is really impressive when you start using HoloLens 2 is the precision of the hand tracking. Microsoft remains today a leader of hands-free interactions, by already creating strong standards on how we can interact with digital 3D objects.
”The tracking technology used in HoloLens has always been the best on the market, with HoloLens 2 it is again very impressive. Technically speaking Microsoft is still ahead of the competition.StephaneCTO & Co-founder of Immersiv.io
You want to move a hologram? Just raise your hands, grab it and move it like it was in the real world. Use both fingers and you can spin, rotate or enlarge every object. You don’t even need to learn those gestures as they are quite naturals.
”The taking into account of the hand-gesture in the navigation and the interaction with the applications is really amazing, very responsive, the movements are intuitive (scale, move, select...), the fact of not going through the intermediary of a controller makes the experience more natural and immersive.ErwanUX/UI Designer at Immersiv.io
Microsoft has convinced everyone with the quality and sophistication of this hand gesture system, and the result seems to come straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, we have to admit that it’s not always easy to remember that you can’t pick a (real) bottle or scratch your (real) nose without knocking the holograms as the system is really sensitive about every of your movement.
”The hand tracking is accurate and fast. It allows users to naturally interact with holograms without learning any gestures or holding a controller. That’s how we interact with objects in real life, and at some point, you can even forget you are interacting with a computer. That is the ultimate UX we have in AR at the moment and I guess (I hope) this will be the norm in a few years.ThomasUX/UI Designer at Immersiv.io
The MR headset also relies on a high-end eye-tracking system, with the embedded sensors taking a 3D scan of your eyes.
Development: Made easier thanks to Microsoft’ documentation
Instead of spending months to develop custom applications, the resources, APIs, and dev components make it easier & faster to create tools for the HoloLens.
”Microsoft has always provided a lot of tools for developers and with HoloLens, they are also providing extensive documentation and tools to make developers’ lives easier.StéphaneCTO & Co-founder of Immersiv.io
Projects like MR Toolkit are really helping in creating a consistent UI and UX throughout all the HoloLens ecosystem, while at the same time helping developers develop great applications. The compatibility with the development platform Unity is also pretty easy to make, with the help of Microsoft’s documentation.
A product obviously designed for the B2B market
At $3,500, HoloLens 2 is a gem of technology that is not made for the mass consumer market. Microsoft has always affirmed it is designed for enterprise.
”I think the Hololens 2 are a great tool overall, great OS, hand gestures, headset but not too bulky. I see it being used in the future by the most high-end tech companies, but I do not see Microsoft going to B2C as many competitors are already positioned.KevinProject Manager at Immersiv.io
When you see the recent shift from B2C to B2B market made by Magic Leap, it shows that the consumer market is probably not mature yet for this type of product.
”The fact that you have both hands free makes the Hololens 2 perfect for remote assistance or instructions solutions for all manual activities (industry, medical, aeronautics...).ThomasUX/UI Designer at Immersiv.io
Even if you can see some cool use cases in museums or sports, Microsoft remains THE reference for industries to create AR tools for employees.
Microsoft’s next-gen MR headset has set a new standard for MR and AR headsets, and the company is still considered a pioneer, overtaking AR/XR market with this high-end device, way better than the first HoloLens, even if there is always great progress margin.
This review was written with the help of Immersiv.io’s team members!