The factory before me was nondescript, a cliche of bygone industry. I stepped closer. Soon, I was towering over it, like the folklorish Paul Bunyan. Reaching for the building, my hands penetrated its slightly translucent facade. I reflexively clenched my fists and started twisting my arms, causing the entire factory to turn on its axis. I lifted it to eye level and pulled it closer to my face, imagining the tiny workers terrified and clambering for the exits.
And then I turned my gaze to the tropical island floating over my shoulder.
None of these things were real, of course: just virtual reality streamed to my eyes through Microsoft’s new HoloLens 2 headset.
Introduced to the world more than three years ago. HoloLens is a self-contained, wearable Windows 10 computer that provides the user with an augmented or “mixed reality” experience. Though HoloLens has so far lived in the world of business, enterprise, and health care (where it’s used, for instance, to help visualize a patient’s MRI results right on top of his body), it has danced around the edges of consumer imagination. My most memorable experiences with the original Development Edition revolved around an interactive AR game where I battled alien machines crawling through the windows and walls of an upscale hotel room.
With HoloLens 2, Microsoft has continued focusing on enterprise, marrying AR with its cloud services through Azure Spatial Anchors and Azure Remote Rendering. HoloLens 2 may look sci-fi, but it’s about getting things done at work. To help that aim, Microsoft addressed a number of pain points from the original headset, radically altering the wear and fit, replacing critical components, vastly expanding the viewport, and fundamentally simplifying user interaction.
These are many of the details Microsoft shared when it unveiled HoloLens 2 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this February. But the full extent of what Microsoft’s…