Hololens has already been declared dead – for companies that have invested in Microsoft’s AR ecosystem, that would be a blow. But Microsoft is probably still working on the AR headset.
Last year was marked by negative headlines for Microsoft’s Hololens AR headset. Following the departure of Hololens co-creator Alex Kipman in June 2022, Business Insider reported that there is “no roadmap to speak of” for Hololens 3.
Microsoft is instead focused on fulfilling its Hololens military contract (IVAS) with the US military, the sources said. But the military Hololens also has big problems.
Before leaving his longtime employer, however, Kipman contradicted Hololens 3 shutdown rumors, and a recent statement from his successor, Scott Evans, underscores that point. In an official blog, Microsoft’s Vice President of Mixed Reality hinted that a successor to the Hololens 2 is in the works.
New Hololens “not every two years”
“We’re just looking for the right design point to make this a meaningful update. They want a successor device that will provide an even higher return on investment,” Evans said.
After all, the business customers targeted by the AR headset don’t want to replace their devices every two years just to get a little more power. Microsoft keeps hearing from business customers that they don’t want to go through the typical two-year retail cycle, Evans said.
“They don’t need a successor yet, but they want to know he will be available at the right time.”
Microsoft is currently working on improvements in all core hardware areas, according to Evans. This includes the display, tracking, sensors as well as battery capacity. However, the term “update” might imply that it’s not a major hardware leap just yet. In any case, Evans does not mention the name “Hololens 3”. Hololens 2 was released in November 2019.
Evans said lessons learned from the IVAS military variant are also incorporated into development. The AR headset has its own specifications for US military applications, he said. But testing with early military users is good for identifying improvements for other cheaper models at the same time, he said. Evans calls this a “trickle down effect” in development.
Microsoft is focused on XR software, but may continue to work on hardware
Evans’ recent comments contradict assumptions that Microsoft has put its own XR strategy on hold, especially when it comes to developing new hardware. Following the launch of Meta’s new Quest Pro mixed reality headset, Microsoft announced an extensive collaboration with Meta on Windows and Office applicationsit therefore contributes its most valuable software to a potentially competing product.
Also, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made it clear that Microsoft’s Metaverse strategy is software driven. Previously there were rumors that Microsoft might be working with Samsung on a new XR headset – however, the project has reportedly already been scrapped. Samsung is now supposed to release a new XR headset itself next year.
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