Wearables in the Spotlight - April: Microsoft HoloLens 2

Ubimax, April 16, 2019

As the world leading experts on wearable computing, it is a given that we are all about wearables. Therefore, they are the focus of this blog series! Regardless of the companies producing them, quality judgements, or preferences, we want to shed a light on the devices that Ubimax’s customers are working with to optimize their business processes.

This blog series is perfect for everyone who shares our passion for wearables.

When Microsoft introduced the world’s first self-contained holographic computer Microsoft HoloLens in 2016, new possibilities in the interactive hologram modeling were opened up by its mixed reality functions. With Microsoft HoloLens 2, Microsoft puts the focus on using the device in industrial environments and offers improvements compared to the preceding model.

Type of Device | binocular smart glasses
Year of Release | 2019
Developer | Microsoft
Weight | not announced yet
What makes it stand out | spatial awareness, interactive holograms

Display and weight

On February 24, 2019 Microsoft launched Microsoft HoloLens 2. What sticks out most is the enlargement of the display. The company also worked on the resolution of the glasses. It was optimized to 2K per eye, in place of the previous 720p. With a holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight it is possible to read a text in font size 8 without problems. By integrating two cameras on the nose bridge, the HoloLens 2 can recognize the distance between the wearer’s pupils and directly adjust the image. This feature also leads to a high standard in security, as the cameras can capture the individual iris, so one can unlock the device with biometrics. Another innovation is the swing-up visor. To interact with the real environment, one just has to push the display up.

Even though the exact weight of Microsoft HoloLens 2 has not been announced yet, it is not much lighter than the preceding version. The difference lies in the felt weight. The battery and other hardware components were moved to the rear of the smart glasses, so it is balanced better and thus more comfortable to wear.

Performance and specifications

Microsoft also improved the general performance of the device. The camera now possesses 8 megapixel and videos can be recorded in a resolution of 1080p. This leads to a better quality and workplace use, for example, Ubimax’ remote assistance solution xAssist can be used providing the consulted expert with more detailed information and a clearer display.

Furthermore, a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon Chip 850 is used in HoloLens 2. The elaborate calculations run faster and more fluent. Another important innovation is that calculations can be performed in Microsoft´s cloud platform Azure – when used in combination – leading to a higher computing power on the glasses.
A connection to other devices can be established via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The device is chargeable per USB-C port. When in constant use, the battery lasts around three hours.

Interaction and hologram functionality

Looking at the first generation of Microsoft HoloLens, the interaction possibilities were limited to a few gestures. For the new version, Microsoft promises that it can recognize 21 natural hand gestures via gesture tracking. On top of that, other areas of interaction have been improved, too. Looking at the voice recognition, the device possesses five microphones and speakers for a good spatial awareness of sounds and an optimized detection of voice commands. Another positive factor is the control by eye tracking: when reading a text, the glasses automatically scroll down as the reader comes towards the end of the page.

What makes Microsoft HoloLens so special is the ability to display holograms and locate them exactly where they need to be located in the room. For this purpose, a Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) is used. This feature was reworked and optimized for the second generation. This leads to an even more detailed modelling of the holograms. With the natural interaction methods, the interaction with the holograms can also be done more extensive and intuitive. Another factor is that the navigational ability of the glasses was raised to a higher level by optimizing the sensors. This is important as information and references concerning the surroundings must be available at their exact locations. To achieve this standard, the same IMU-sensors as in the first HoloLens are used, while the deep sensor was upgraded with the in-house solution Azure Kinect, offering an even better performance. This leads to a better modelling of holograms at the relevant location.

Continuing the cooperation

As already for the first generation, Ubimax will make its Frontline platform available on Microsoft HoloLens 2, too. The applications will provide a better user experience considering the improved technological conditions.

Ubimax already tested Microsoft HoloLens in practice with PTS Logistics. The project was about supporting picking and packing processes with the solution xPick. The HoloLens is also used in different research projects. In the project RadAR+, it is deployed to blend in environmental information time and location based as a travel assistance system. In the recently kicked-off project SumSens, the device will be used to realize an assistance system for the sensor installation in space travelling and to visualize the sensor data eventually.

Ubimax representative’s CEO Dr. Hendrik Witt and Vice President of Business Development Leonid Poliakov, already had the chance to test the glasses on the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona and were excited about it: “With HoloLens 2, Microsoft puts a clear focus on the future of smart glasses and the wearable computing technology for industrial use. The new function, like the swing-up visor and the optimized interaction possibilities are not only convenient, but also do they bring added value to our customers,” said Witt.