The story of the HoloLens has been a mix of work and play. But while many developers have spent time creating gaming and entertainment apps for the HoloLens 1, with the HoloLens 2, Microsoft has encouraged everyone to focus more on the business side of things.
But apparently there is still hope for those looking to harness the powers of the HoloLens for general consumer use, as Alex Kipman, co-creator of HoloLens, has just commented on the development of a consumer version.
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The comments were disclosed during The Wall Street Journal̵
The surprise here, however, came when Kipman was asked about a possible consumer HoloLens device on the horizon.
“I don’t think today’s technology – glasses, at $ 3,500 – is a consumer product. It’s a great product and a transformative product for the industries we’re in, but it’s not a consumer product,” Kipman said in conversation with Joanna Stern. “Once we can get a good level of immersion, and immersion is key, you can’t start giving lightweight notifications in Google, putting it in a device, putting it on someone’s face, and assuming it’s a consumer product. The HoloLens 2 plus, plus-level of immersion in socially acceptable glasses. “
That last note seems to have a shot at both Google Glass and maybe even North and its Focals, the company recently acquired by Google. It also seems to set the (potentially unfair) bar quite high for any upcoming Apple smartglasses device that, based on some industry chatter, could start out as notification-focused rather than immersive.
On how anyone can get truly immersive AR smartglasses, Kipman explains the matter quite simply.
“Let me contextualize that for a moment: the HoloLens 2 weighs about 500 grams and consumes about 8 watts of power. Power is for heating is for comfort,” said Kipman. “For you to get there [AR smartglasses] comfortable, 500 grams should be less than 90 grams and 8 watts should be less than 2 watts. So I have to increase the immersive stuff, stuff that takes strength and weight, but I have to be able to cut the weight by more than 5x and reduce the power by more than 4x. “
Here Kipman delves into why the HoloLens 2 was designed the way it is. But the tantalizing part comes when he confirms that Microsoft is indeed working on a consumer-friendly version of AR smartglasses.
“When you put on a HoloLens 2, where do we distribute the weight? On the bone. On [your] skull. We don’t make the device designed to touch your nose or your ears … If I want to [AR smartglasses] I’m going to have to put more weight on cartilage, and the human factors to do that comfortably aren’t clear, “Kipman said.” We are absolutely working on it. [I have] nothing to say about the ‘when’ here today, but it is certainly part of our strategy to ensure that we continue to both inspire and advance this mixed reality space. “