Microsoft Introduces New HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition

Microsoft introduced a new edition of the HoloLens 2 this week, which is “designed, built, and tested to support regulated industrial environments.”

The HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition adds a few standards and certifications to the headset, along with changes to warranty and unit replacement. The Industrial Edition meets the “clean room compatible” standard, with an ISO 14644-1 Class 5-8 rating, as well as the “Intrinsic safety” standard, with a UL Class I, Division 2 rating.

The headset also comes with a two year warranty and a ‘Rapid Replacement Program’ which Microsoft says “minimizes downtime, with advance exchange and expedited shipping.”

The HoloLens 2 started shipping in November 2019 as an enterprise-level, standalone AR headset, priced at $3,500. A successor to the original HoloLens, we found that the HoloLens 2 made some good improvements to comfort and accessibility. In June last year, the headset was made available to purchase directly for non-enterprise customers, but not for any cheaper — it still carried the same hefty $3,500 price tag.

The Industrial Edition shipping later this year is even pricier, at $4,950 per unit. The increase is likely to cover the new standards and comprehensive replacement program, given that industrial environments might see the headset needing to be replaced or repaired more frequently.

In August last year, a new HoloLens 2 application was released that helps doctors and nurses safely identify symptoms of COVID-19 patients using volumetric capture.

HoloLens 2 Industrial Edition shipments will begin in Spring 2021, with pre-orders now open to all existing HoloLens 2 markets.

You can read more about the Industrial Edition over on Microsoft’s blog, and be sure to also check out our hands-on with the original HoloLens 2 from MWC 2019.

Microsoft Improves Visual Fidelity For Reverb G2 And Other WMR Headsets

Microsoft detailed a new software update available for some Windows MR headsets, including the Reverb G2, that will increase the visual fidelity by improving corrections made for artifacts such as chromatic aberration and light leakage.

The blog post was written by Alex Vlachos, a former member of Valve’s VR team who joined Microsoft as a ‘Partner Architect in Mixed Reality’ earlier this year. Vlachos says that many of these new corrections and improvements came about during the development of the HP Reverb G2.

The team “spent considerable time improving our approach to reducing chromatic aberration”, resulting in a new algorithm that makes better corrections to the image, and results in a cleaner view when viewed through headset lenses.

“A white pixel on the panels will refract through the lenses and separate into red, green, and blue pixels visible to the viewer. Chromatic aberration correction aims to adjust for this by pre-distorting the rendered image so that the image viewed by the user after lens refraction appears as a single white pixel as intended,” the blog post explains.

Vlachos says this helps eliminate a lot of chromatic aberration, as per the image below.

Chromatic Aberration Windows MR
Left: an example of chromatic aberration. Right: Corrected chromatic aberration on Reverb G2.

Microsoft also made improvements to correct for light leakage. The new corrections implemented will reduce color fringing and color tinting that comes from light leakage, as pictured below.

Left: No light leakage correction (simulated). Right: Light leakage correction.

While these improvements came about during development for the Reverb G2, they will also be applied to the Samsung Odyssey+ and the original HP Reverb. For the former, Microsoft has improved chromatic aberration at the periphery of the lenses. For the latter, the team was able to “improve chromatic aberration artifacts, reduce radial distortion, apply light leak correction, and improve rendering performance by about 8% in most applications.” All of these improvements will also be applied to the Reverb G2.

The update is available now in the latest Windows Mixed Reality VR runtime, which can be downloaded using Windows Update.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Reverb G2 unboxing video and keep an eye out for our full review of the headset coming later this week.

Microsoft Transitions To OpenXR Standard For Windows Mixed Reality & HoloLens

Microsoft is transitioning to the OpenXR standard for future new features it builds in VR and AR.

A post by Alex Turner at Microsoft explains that “starting in Unity 2021, OpenXR will then graduate to be the only supported Unity backend for targeting HoloLens 2 and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.” OpenXR is also supported in Epic’s Unreal Engine and Microsoft formally recommends others using their own custom engines in VR and AR switch to using the OpenXR API going forward.

“HoloLens 2 and Windows Mixed Reality will continue to support apps that target our previous WinRT APIs as well, although new features may not be available in these APIs,” the post explains.

The OpenXR standard aims to “lets engines write code once that’s then portable across hardware platforms from a wide range of VR and AR vendors,” making it less expensive and time consuming for a developer to put a piece of software on multiple VR/AR systems. The standard has wide industry support from the likes of Valve and Facebook as well, with Microsoft pushing forward on the content side with Minecraft’s new RenderDragon engine implementing PC VR support using OpenXR.

This is still early days for the implementation of OpenXR. Unity is the most popular engine for making games but developers use many different versions of the software, so it may take some time before the version Turner mentions — Unity 2021 LTS — is the version used by developers releasing new OpenXR projects.

We’re curious to see how OpenXR implementation affects indie developers in the coming years. The majority of content out there was made in an earlier version of Unity and for some developers updating software to a new version might not make sense just to access future features platform makers like Microsoft, Facebook or Valve might implement. In other words, time will tell how OpenXR affects the VR and AR development ecosystem.

Microsoft Transitions To OpenXR Standard For Windows Mixed Reality & HoloLens

Microsoft is transitioning to the OpenXR standard for future new features it builds in VR and AR.

A post by Alex Turner at Microsoft explains that “starting in Unity 2021, OpenXR will then graduate to be the only supported Unity backend for targeting HoloLens 2 and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.” OpenXR is also supported in Epic’s Unreal Engine and Microsoft formally recommends others using their own custom engines in VR and AR switch to using the OpenXR API going forward.

“HoloLens 2 and Windows Mixed Reality will continue to support apps that target our previous WinRT APIs as well, although new features may not be available in these APIs,” the post explains.

The OpenXR standard aims to “lets engines write code once that’s then portable across hardware platforms from a wide range of VR and AR vendors,” making it less expensive and time consuming for a developer to put a piece of software on multiple VR/AR systems. The standard has wide industry support from the likes of Valve and Facebook as well, with Microsoft pushing forward on the content side with Minecraft’s new RenderDragon engine implementing PC VR support using OpenXR.

This is still early days for the implementation of OpenXR. Unity is the most popular engine for making games but developers use many different versions of the software, so it may take some time before the version Turner mentions — Unity 2021 LTS — is the version used by developers releasing new OpenXR projects.

We’re curious to see how OpenXR implementation affects indie developers in the coming years. The majority of content out there was made in an earlier version of Unity and for some developers updating software to a new version might not make sense just to access future features platform makers like Microsoft, Facebook or Valve might implement. In other words, time will tell how OpenXR affects the VR and AR development ecosystem.

New HP Reverb G2 Details: Thinner Cable, Half Resolution Mode, More

New HP Reverb G2 details have emerged following the headset’s reveal last week.

Members of the HP team answered questions on Reddit following the reveal of the device, which is the result of a collaboration between HP, Microsoft and Valve. We already know the Reverb G2 is 4K PC VR headset with inside-out tracking afforded by four cameras. It’s also got Valve Index-style audio, redesigned motion controllers and improved ergonomics with a six-meter cable.

New HP Reverb G2 Details Revealed

HP Reverb 2 Frontfacing

Over on Reddit, HP confirmed that not only is the cable longer than the previous generation, but it’s “single barrel and thinner” too. As we already knew, you’ll be able to detach it from the headset, but HP also confirmed that it plans to sell replacement cables. No word on when they’ll go on sale or how much they’ll cost just yet.

As for the headset itself, the company revealed that it’s planning 60Hz mode and half-resolution modes. These should help the headset run on PCs that struggle with its beefy specs. There will also be camera passthrough, which will be in black and white.

Moving on to the controllers, HP confirmed that they won’t have capacitive sensors like Oculus Touch controllers. That means no finger sensing in this iteration. The grip button is now analog, though. HP already confirmed that it will sell the controllers separately and that they’re backward compatible with older Windows Mixed Reality devices, but clarified they won’t see pre-orders and will likely ship after the G2 itself releases in Fall 2020.

Do these new HP Reverb G2 details sway you on the headset at all? Pre-orders are open in the US now and will be launching around the globe soon.

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HP Reverb G2 Worldwide Pre-Orders To Launch In June/July

Last week’s announcement of the HP Reverb G2 headset was met with excitement from the VR community. But, while the US can already pre-order the device, HP Reverb G2 worldwide pre-orders aren’t available yet. We know when they will be, though.

During a presentation announcing the headset at the AWE 2020 event last week, the company confirmed that HP Reverb G2 worldwide pre-orders would be launching in mid-June and then continuing to roll out across July. These regions include Asia, Canada, Latin America and Europe. US pre-orders are currently available from the official website.

Later on in the session the company clarified that, although pre-orders are coming later, shipping for the device will be global. That’s currently scheduled for launch in fall 2020. We also don’t have individual pricing for different regions just yet, but we’ll let you know when we get that information.

Reverb G2 has caught the attention of VR enthusiasts thanks to an impressive spec sheet, made possible by a collaboration with Microsoft and Valve. Like the original Reverb, the G2 boasts a 4K resolution, and inside-out tracking, but also delivers four-camera tracking, Valve Index-style audio, improved ergonomics and redesigned Windows Mixed Reality controllers. Coming in at $599, the device shows a lot of promise for the enthusiast PC VR market. HP calls it a ‘no compromise’ headset, a marketing line we discussed heavily in this week’s episode of our VR Download podcast.

Will you be laying down a pre-order for the HP Reverb G2 when they launch across the globe in a few months? Let us know in the comments below!

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