Microsoft unveiled its second-generation HoloLens augmented reality headset at the Mobile World Congress, and at first glance one might think that the augmented reality device is only for hardware. You would be wrong and companies would tend to agree.
While the new HoloLens includes a number of enhancements meant to make it more useful, comfortable and easy to use, the real story of this device lies in the software inside and the services connected to it. 39; outside. With HoloLens, Microsoft deploys its well-used hardware book. Does Surface really speak of Microsoft as a laptop reader or subscription to an Office 365 subscription? Does Xbox relate to console or Xbox Live, subscriptions and in-app purchases?
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HoloLens is similar: Microsoft could sell the hardware while enjoying the Dynamics 365 or Azure subscription. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Mobile World Congress 2019 that the company's IT partners and customers would use the software giant's IT services as a foundation. Nadella cited a series of business use cases that can change lives through health care, distance education and manufacturing. "That's why we build technology," Nadella said.
HoloLens 2 – which, technically, is the third iteration of HoloLens, while Microsoft jumped version two – looks somewhat different from the original HoloLens, which Microsoft started selling in 2016. It features a screen that can easily get up; has a larger vertical field of view; provides articulated hand and eye tracking, which should make interaction with holograms more natural; and is built to be lighter and better weighted. It has a Snapdragon 850 calculation engine and a custom AI holographic coprocessor. Microsoft is expected to target the HoloLens 2 shipping date for the second half of the year.
Scott Stein, of CNET, describes in detail the material changes and the improvement of the experiment.
But do not be distracted. The success of HoloLens 2 business relies on software and services. It is not known whether there will be a HoloLens for everyday use.
Sources said the HoloLens 2 would also be one of the first devices to include the Windows operating system (WCOS) – the latest software common to the Windows 10 kernel – at its heart. (Microsoft is only saying that HoloLens 2 will include a variant of Windows 10, to my knowledge.) Microsoft's holographic shell is based on WCOS. The firmware of the device allows the technological advances of the new screen, the camera and other components.
While HoloLens 1 could connect to Azure and other Windows headsets in mixed reality, HoloLens 2 is designed from the ground up to be a device connected to the cloud and the edge.
Microsoft will offer a standalone version of the HoloLens 2 hardware at $ 3,500, or $ 1,500 less than the comparable commercial version of HoloLens 1 including security, management, and a business warranty. But it will also offer two different HoloLens 2 subscription offers: a HoloLens 2 plus Dynamics 365 Remote Assist support offer at a price of $ 125 per user per month (or $ 1,500 per year) for a period of three years; and a HoloLens 2 plus Dynamics 365 Remote Assist kit at $ 325 per user per month (or $ 3,900 per year) for a period of one year. (The one-year package is for those who want to test it before committing.)
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With regard to the return on investment, companies subscribing to HoloLens 2 and connected services could save on travel and training costs. These returns are often used to justify pilot projects of augmented reality in the company. Some recent use cases of augmented reality include:
Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, introduced by Microsoft last year, allows service personnel to contact remote experts for help and instructions. They can interact without the hands as they carry the HoloLens. The remote assistant is part of Microsoft's strategy to try to put its software and services in the hands of a greater number of "front-line workers".
Remote assistance is only one of the many HoloLens applications developed by Microsoft and carrying the Dynamics 365 brand and aimed at this market. Others include Dynamics 365 Layout, a 3D layout application also introduced last year; Dynamics 365 Visualize product for 3D product presentation, announced by Microsoft last week; and an upcoming application of Dynamics 365 guides for large-scale 3D training.
Last week, Microsoft officials also announced that a Dynamics 365 Remote Assist application would come on Android devices and that the Dynamics 365 Product Visualize application would come on iOS devices. What officials did not explain at that time is how mobile phone users will be able to see holograms in high fidelity. It's there that Azure comes in.
Microsoft introduces two new Azure services to enable smarter edge scenarios in the cloud. They will initially be available for preview.
Currently, holographic applications can share spatial anchors with each other, allowing users to render a hologram in one place in the real world across multiple devices. But with Azure Spatial Anchors – a new service that Microsoft announces at Mobile World Congress – HoloLens, iPhone and Android phone users will be able to work with holograms that can persist across platforms using a shared coordinate system. The service will provide access to a database of locations mapped to Wi-Fi SSIDs. Phone users will simply need to download an application to be part of the physically and digitally merged environment.
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In addition, Azure Remote Rendering, another new service, will allow users to see high-fidelity holograms with excellent resolution on their iPhones and Android phones. (I think this will allow Dynamics 365 Remote Assistance and Product Visualization applications to be used on phones.) Microsoft will perform the required Azure GPU image processing in the cloud and transmit the required images to the Azure GPUs in the cloud. phone results via this service. .
Microsoft is also introducing some new development kits at Mobile World Congress, which are related to its HoloLens and smart on-board strategy.
Do you remember Project Kinect for Azure, a set of sensors, microphones, and embedded computing that Microsoft officials said developers would be able to use to create vision and video solutions? advanced speech synthesis? It is finally ready and will be known as the Azure Kinect Development Kit. Microsoft is ready to start making pre-orders for the $ 399 kit. The HoloLens 2 connection means that this kit uses the same camera as the HoloLens 2.
Microsoft will also offer the Azure System Builder kit to customers who want to build custom HoloLens equipment, such as the Trimble headset with HoloLens built-in.