Microsoft first unveiled its HoloLens 2 headset at Mobile World Congress back in February and promised its launch later this year. Reuters now reports that the HoloLens 2 headset might go on sale next month. Reportedly, Harry Shum, Microsoft’s head of AI and research, revealed next month’s release date during an onstage appearance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on Thursday.
While September was finalized by Shum for HoloLens 2, a Microsoft statement says he may have misspoken or referred to prototype devices being shared with more consumers. “As we announced in February, Microsoft HoloLens 2 will begin shipping later this year,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “We have started collecting expressions of interest for HoloLens 2 pre-orders and, as part of our standard practice for gathering feedback, have shared near-final prototypes with some customers, but have not announced a date for general availability.”
The company began accepting pre-orders from businesses for the $3,500 HoloLens 2 headset earlier this year, before unveiling a developer edition. The new AR headset includes an improved field of view, a new Azure Kinect sensor, an ARM processor, eye-tracking sensors, with a different display system. Microsoft has also upgraded the gesture controls in HoloLens 2 so one can move items more easily.
The company is also adopting a more open model for HoloLens 2 and Windows more broadly. It involves an open app store so developers can make their stores on the headset, an open web browsing model, and more open APIs and drivers. Microsoft promised to these commitments earlier this year, and they were enough to impress Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, a previous fierce critic of Microsoft’s Windows Store approach. As a result, the HoloLens 2 headset will also support for the Unreal Engine 4, letting developers include image-realistic renders for use in manufacturing, product design, architecture, and more.