Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2 mixed reality (MR) headset during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) a few months ago with a launch slated for later this year. There will, in fact, be two versions as the Redmond-based company has just announced the HoloLens 2 Development Edition, offering an easier way onto the platform for creators.
Microsoft has partnered with Unity for the release of the HoloLens 2 Development Edition so that customers who purchase the headset will receive a 3-month trial of Unity Pro and PiXYZ Plugin as part of the deal. Microsoft will also be throwing in $500 USD in free Azure credits.
One of the big hurdles to MR development has been cost, with the original HoloLens retailing for $3,000 with HoloLens 2 retailing for $3,500 when it arrives. To encourage more studios onto the platform the HoloLens 2 Development Edition will release later this year starting at $99 per month (or you can buy it outright) to registered members of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Developer Program (which is free to be part of). Additionally, the HoloLens 2 Development Edition will not be available for pre-order, so the developer programme is the only way to get hold of this particular edition (the standard HoloLens 2 can be pre-ordered however).
“By bringing together HoloLens 2, Azure MR services, and the Unity platform, we are making it easier than ever for developers to get started building the real-time 3D experiences that are driving this 3rd wave of computing,” said Matt Fleckenstein, Senior Director, Mixed Reality, Microsoft in a statement.
“Pairing HoloLens 2 with Unity’s real-time 3D platform enables industrial businesses to create immersive, interactive experiences that accelerate business and reduce costs. The addition of Unity Pro and the PiXYZ Plugin makes it easy to import 3D design data in minutes rather than hours,” adds Tim McDonough, GM of Industrial, Unity.
Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 features a range of improvements over the previous model. The field of view (FOV) has been expanded, eye-tracking is now built in as well as full hand tracking. The headset is now said to be more comfortable thanks to a change to the centre of balance, plus the front of the headset now flips up to drop in and out of MR quickly and easily.
There’s no specific release date for HoloLens 2 at the moment. When those details are made public VRFocus will let you know.