HoloLens 2 Is Cool, But It's Not For Your Living Room (Yet)

I swear there was a hummingbird here.

When HoloLens 2 debuted at Mobile World Congress, it made a splash. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 850-powered headset is more comfortable, has a wider field of view, hand tracking, and a promise of a broader ecosystem at launch. Here at Microsoft Build, I got to try the headset for myself, see the improvements, and learn why it’s not destined for the home anytime soon.

“The journey will be measured in years.”

It was more advanced than my previous AR opportunities with the original HoloLens. But that found a home in the enterprise, where its cost was made up by providing maintenance instructions that did away with the cost of plane tickets to ship experts to machinery that needed fixes. Could this be the one that comes home?

Greg Sullivan, director of communications for mixed reality, told me no. The HoloLens 2 is still an enterprise device. But in the future? Maybe.

“I compare it to the advent of the graphical user interface,” he told me. Moving items in 3D spaces, he said, is natural. So was using a GUI after his computer science classes had him using punch cards.

I told him that I was surprised by Tim Sweeney and Epic Games’ announcement back at MWC that it would support HoloLens. (Unity trials will ship with the Development Edition of HoloLens 2.) Maybe, in the future, we could see games? Maybe we could see a HoloLens for the home?

Perhaps, Sullivan told me. “That journey will be measured in years, probably.”

Better trackers, better comfort

Getting the HoloLens 2 on and off was easier than the original. Loosen, put on your head, tighten with a knob on the back, and voila. And once it’s tightened, you can take it on and off like a hat. This comes from someone who could never get the original HoloLens to fit just right.

The hand-tracking is cool, and far more intuitive than the air tap gesture from the original HoloLens. In my demo, I grabbed a small windmill and expanded it to fill the room. I had a hard time shrinking it back down, but I think that was an issue with the demo software, not the tracking.

In another section, I found a hummingbird surrounded by gems. When I focused on a gem with the eye-tracking and told it via microphone to “pop,” it burst into the box with facts about hummingbirds. As I read it, it scrolled down with my eyes.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • thegriff
    Well if it gets cheap enough to use at home, I can see a number of uses for fixing things at home. That's if you can get diagrams of appliances, generators or even 3-D diagrams of how to do things like home fixes etc.