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article imageMicrosoft cancels second-generation HoloLens headset

By James Walker     Feb 20, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has reportedly cancelled the upcoming second-generation version of its HoloLens mixed reality headset. The company will now skip directly to HoloLens v3, set to be released in two years' time as a substantial upgrade of the current prototype.
HoloLens was unveiled back in 2015 as a visionary device pitched as the future of computing. It lets you overlay holograms on the real world around you. The device runs regular Universal Windows apps so you can pin a calendar to your wall or play a game on top of a physical table.
HoloLens is still futuristic technology to many and it's a long way off being consumer-ready. However, development versions of the headset have been on sale for a year as Microsoft demonstrates the feasibility of its technology. After selling "thousands" of the devices, the company was widely expected to launch an upgraded HoloLens at some point this year.
According to a report from Thurrott.com, this version of HoloLens is no longer in Microsoft's roadmap. HoloLens 2 has been removed from the schedule and won't be publicly unveiled. Microsoft has decided to jump straight to version three, postponing the launch by several years but allowing the company to add more innovative technology.
HoloLens 2 would have been a smaller version of the current headset, reducing its bulk and making it more comfortable to wear. It's understood its hardware capabilities wouldn't have been too different from the first-generation prototype though, potentially making it an unappealing upgrade to current customers.
In contrast, HoloLens 3 will be a significant overhaul. Microsoft will debut new technology that directly upgrades the mixed reality experience. Notably, the new headset will have a significantly expanded field of view, overcoming one of the major limitations of the current-generation device.
The hardware improvements will come alongside the form factor optimisations and anticipated price drop that would have featured in version 2. With an all-new, heavily-upgraded device to tout, Microsoft could begin to pitch HoloLens more towards consumers.
Skipping a release cycle has its drawbacks though. Thurrott's report states Microsoft will now hold off on launching any new HoloLens hardware until 2019. This is a potentially risky move as it could lead to a lapse in consumer interest and enable competitors to catch up and launch new products.
However, HoloLens' primary competitor is Magic Leap's long-rumoured mixed reality headset which still isn't close to being on sale. A damning report last year claimed the reclusive company is years behind schedule and its hyped technology lags far behind the capabilities of Microsoft's. Microsoft is apparently gambling that Magic Leap's problems will continue past 2019.
Microsoft is continuing to showcase HoloLens in public despite its revised timeframe for its next hardware reveal. Last month, the company detailed a new camera system that can be used to involve spectators with holographic content. It solves a major limitation of the headset, allowing others in the room to watch you interact with the holograms you create.
More about Microsoft, hololens, mixed reality, headsets
 
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