Microsoft sheds a little more light on HoloLens 2, showing off the depth sensor

Laurent Giret

It’s now been more than two years since HoloLens made its debut, and the rumours say that Microsoft could launch a successor as soon as next year. We still don’t know much about HoloLens 2, except that it could use a new ARM chip from Qualcomm. Microsoft also said back in 2017 that it was developing its own AI coprocessor for implementing Deep Neural Networks.

HoloLens still has no real competition in the market, but the first generation headset definitely has some shortcomings, especially the limited field of view. There is obviously some room for improvement here, and Microsoft recently revealed that the new depth sensor technology coming with HoloLens 2 will bring some pretty visible improvements.

This went a little unnoticed, but Microsoft actually demoed the new depth sensor technology back at the Research faculty summit in August of this year (via ZDNet). The new prototype sensor was used for a demo of Project Kinect for Azure, and Andrew Duan, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft’s Cognition team said that the same sensor will be used in the next gen HoloLens.

The quick demo below shows that the new “time-of-flight” sensor has much better depth precision, and a pretty wide field of view. “We are basically targeting a high accurate depth camera with low noise, and also this is very low power consumption camera as well,” said Duan.

With the depth sensor and CPU being more power efficient, we’re wondering if Microsoft will be able to shrink HoloLens v2 so that it looks smaller than the Magic Leap One. Microsoft also has an excellent product designer with Chief Product Officer Panos Panay, so we hope the new mixed reality headset will also took inspiration from recent Surface products including the Surface headphones.