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In an interview with Bloomberg, Microsoft’s head of Mixed Reality, Alex Kipman, answered some questions about the present and future of the Microsoft HoloLens, releasing some crumbs about the next version of the device.
He said HoloLens is currently targeting first-line workers, who need their hands free, and that 60% of Fortune 500 companies are trialing or using Mixed reality, while 90% of Fortune 500 companies with more than 500 people have adopted it. Microsoft saw particular success in the healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and architecture sector, while some other industries saw reduced adoption. Overall he was somewhat cagey about sales but did say sales had accelerated over the last 18 months.
When asked about the next version of the Microsoft HoloLens, the HoloLens 3, he said the device needed to show improvements in 3 areas:
- improve immersion
- improve comfort and social acceptability (e.g., glasses versus goggles)
- increase value of what you can accomplish
He said Microsoft wanted the device not just to be an incremental improvement but a transformative leap forward. Of course, long-time readers will remember a similar hype about the HoloLens 2.
Either way, he confirmed that Microsoft was currently in the design stage of the device but that there was no rush to see the device launched this year and otherwise did not confirm any targetted release date.
Kipman also confirmed that Microsoft also felt a consumer device was essential to make Mixed Reality a success overall besides targeting the industry. This device needed to show a massive improvement over the current HoloLens.
In particular, it needed to show some improvement in immersion, but more importantly, it needed to weigh less than 90g (vs. 500g for the HoloLens 2) and use only 2W of power (vs. 8w for the HoloLens 2). Given the magnitude of the needed improvements, it appears we may be waiting quite some time for a consumer version to arrive.
Importantly Kipman confirmed that Microsoft is working with competitors in the space such as Niantic and Epic to keep Mixed reality an open platform with free interoperability, multiple hardware sources, and no app store lock-in to tax.
See the full 30 min interview below:
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) May 14, 2021