According to the news report by Bloomberg, Microsoft Corp. is launching an upgraded and cheaper version of its AR (augmented reality) goggles HoloLens. The technology giant is doing this to create a larger business selling this device to corporates.
The first version of the HoloLens cost $5,000, which was being sold to commercial customers. However, the new version, the HoloLens 2, is priced at $3,500 and boasts a wider view range as well as easier controls.
The device, which allows users to see, speak to, view and interact with 3D-holograms, is also being sold through a monthly subscription that comes with related software apps.
To justify the still-high price, Microsoft is marketing the HoloLens 2 as a device that can be used by workers rather than commercial consumers. The company has positioned the goggles as devices that can be used for tasks like helping architects design new buildings or even as visual guides for factory workers for learning new jobs.
The aim is to make the HoloLens 2 useful from the beginning. To this end, the device comes with prepared apps that can be used immediately.
The HoloLens 2 is being tested by Pearson Plc., an education focused company, as well as Koninklijke Philips NV, a health tech provider. Added to this, the United States Army awarded the technology giant a $480 million contract to supply it with prototypes of the device.
The Army contract has caused some concern within the company, with about 50 of Microsoft’s employees petitioning that the company let go of the contract. These employees wrote a letter to the company’s executives on Friday, February 22, stating that they had not joined Microsoft to develop weapons and that they demanded to have a say in how their work was being used.
Koninklijke Philips (or, simply Philips) has been working with Microsoft to link the HoloLens to its Azurion system, which is used to guide surgeons while performing minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Philips manufactures machines that help surgeons to move tools within the human body through tiny incisions. These tools are used in a variety of surgeries, including removing tumors from the body.
The idea is that the new HoloLens can be used to provide a 3D view of blood vessels, or give each member of the surgical team a personalized view of the data screen and even control the Azurion machines using voice commands.
Philips’ Chief Medical Officer of image guided therapy Atul Gupta, states that just like when a person is driving a car and needs both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, surgeons want to keep their hands on their instruments and their eyes on their patients. He said with the introduction of the HoloLens 2, technology is finally catching up with their vision of what they in the medical community wish to do with AR or mixed reality.
The HoloLens 2 was unveiled on Sunday, February 24, at MWC Barcelona. During the product launch, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella stated that the company has the responsibility of being a trusted partner to all the companies that use its products. He also stated that businesses as well as institutions should not be dependent on the company, but rather a partner.
Nadella stated that technologies that defined modern times, such as AR and mixed reality, could not be controlled by a few people, companies or even countries. This kind of technology needed to be shared and democratized so that all could benefit from it.
To this end, Microsoft has offered its customers options of using Mozilla’s web-browser Firefox with the HoloLens 2, rather that just the company’s native Edge browser.