has decided that HoloLens 2 is only going to be sold to enterprise customers
who want to deploy the headset to their workers. We talked
to our Innovation Expert, Martin Vovk, about changes that this technology brings
to the enterprise world.
What is HoloLens 2 and why is such a big deal, how is it different from HoloLens 1?
HoloLens2 is the second iteration of Microsoft's revolutionary head-mounted mixed reality device. It’s a device you put on your head, with a visor over your eyes, which enables a completely new way of interacting with information. It’s a self-contained device, with an on-board computer and built-in Wi-Fi, which acts as a client for data on the device itself, the Azure cloud, or the web in general. Compared to its predecessor, it’s an almost completely new product with more computing power, better sensors, longer battery life, and a few extra properties that we should point out. It’s got a bigger FOV (field of view) which enables the user to see more information and makes the device more interesting to use with applications that present a lot of information. There are completely new, more intuitive, hand gestures, which enable easier content manipulation. Any command could be a combination of the user's hand movement combined with voice control. The most obvious improvement in comparison to the old model is that the device is smaller and lighter. This makes it much more comfortable to wear and to work with. We can assume this should enable longer daily usage times.
Why has Microsoft decided to only sell headsets to enterprise customers, which companies do you think will start to use this technology first?
I’m not sure if there is an official statement on the topic of enterprise only, but we can safely assume that there must be two main reasons. Firstly, the price itself is not for average consumers, even though there will be a monthly subscription model with some Dynamics365 products and Azure supported. However, I don’t think this is the main reason. Mixed reality does not have a consumer-centric, daily use application yet. There a few casual games and some productivity suites, but these will not interest many people at this point. HoloLens 2 is designed as a tool, something that will bring value to manufacturing shop floors, field services, construction sites, remote work, sales, teaching and many other sectors. There are multiple options for supporting workers and managers in manufacturing, with scalable learning and visualization solutions.
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What kinds of technology companies have to be able to use HoloLens 2 effectively? Will they be able to implement it on their own, or will they have to find experts to help? Who can help them?
Microsoft offers multiple approaches for developing content for HoloLens devices. There will be Azure-connected services provided which should not be difficult to use and could serve as a starting point for a large proportion of the initial customers. These solutions should not be hard to set up, will be cloud supported, and will be easily connected to existing MS Dynamics 365. These integrations could be developed by internal power users with support from MS partners. BE-terna has years of experience with integrations of different enterprise systems and these kinds of solutions. There will be cases when additional customization is likely to be needed. These will include individual industry-related processes, custom add-ons, or completely customized applications to solve specific problems. In these cases, you will need a team of software developers who will design a custom app. This is something that we are more than interested in supporting our clients with. It will all depend on how much the key people responsible for digital transformation in companies recognize the possible application in their business environment, and the added value this tech provides. We can safely assume that there is some recognition of this in any kind of industry.
When do you expect that BE-terna will be able to offer our clients this new technology?
HoloLens 2 is an upgrade of a pre-existing device with similar functionality, and the development approach has not changed completely. Currently, we are bound by the limited availability of actual devices. I would hazard a guess that such interest in the device was not expected because there have been a few massive orders from the aircraft and automotive industries. Devices should start shipping in the next few months. Projects themselves could start immediately. There is an overlap in the fields of head-mounted devices, mobile AR, and even professional VR solutions, and this gives developers, and customers, an option to design and test in advance of actually getting the device itself. We are able to evaluate and estimate new project ideas and we are already doing some preproduction testing with a few of our customers. Hardware devices are only the final product for the whole solution, user experience can also take a lot of time to get right.