Microsoft's popular and industry-leading 'HoloLens 2' mixed reality (MR) headset is now to see an 'Industrial Edition' safe for use in controlled environments.
I'm a virtual reality gaming enthusiast at heart, but I'm not afraid to admit I delight in keeping up with XR applications in the private sector as they happen.
So, you can imagine my glee when I caught up with today's top story: Microsoft is to release a new edition of the HoloLens 2 called the 'Industrial Edition', which could open up a new world of industry applications.
What make HoloLens 2 unique is how crazy intuitive it is. A live, on-stage demonstration by Microsoft's Julia Schwarz showed off just how easy the device is to use: logging you in automatically and recognising your hand movements and simulating collisions with virtual objects, sliders & buttons.
This has already gotten noticed across the private sector. According to a Microsoft blog by Principal Programming Manager Charlie Han, the device is being used by Mercedes-Benz USA to improve service technician efficiency, the United Kingdom's National Health Service to limit exposure to COVID-19 patients, and even by Lockheed Martin who are using HoloLens 2 to build the Orion spacecraft.
But Microsoft had one big problem with HoloLens 2: it wasn't suitable for use in regulated environments. For instance, HoloLens 2 didn't meet the pharmaceutical industry's particle emissions standards, nor did it meet the standard of safety equipment in potentially hazardous environments.
In response, they've released the HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition, specifically designed for use in regulated industrial environments. The new device is Clean Room compatible (with a rating of ISO 14644-1, Class 5-8) and meets Intrinsic Safety Standards (UL Class 1, Division 2.)
Microsoft have also unveiled HoloLens 2's new two year warranty and 'Rapid Replacement Program', which streamlines the process of getting replacements. As the thought process is that highly regulated users will need replacements more frequently, some commentators believe this new warranty program accounts in part for the Industrial Edition's heavier price tag. The original shipped at $3,500, whereas the Industrial Edition will start at $4,950.
The HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition will begin to ship later in the year, slotted for a Spring 2021 release date. I don't suppose many of VR Final's readers will be in the market for one, so what industry applications do you hope get released in the near future?
If you're not a industry boss looking to integrate AR into their workflow, don't sweat it - we've got you covered too. Did you know that developers can now distribute their Quest apps and games to users without going through the approval process for the Oculus Stores?