Microsoft wants to bring more developers into its ecosystem to build “mixed reality” apps, and Microsoft today announced a Development Edition of the second-generation HoloLens headset to accomplish that mission.
The new Development Edition, announced ahead of Microsoft’s big Build conference in Seattle next week, will cost $3,500, the same price Microsoft gave for HoloLens 2 when it first unveiled the device in February.
Microsoft hasn’t disclosed much about HoloLens 2 since it was first announced at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, one of the most important gatherings for the mobile technology industry. At the time, Microsoft said it will be available later this year.
In addition to the headset, the Development Edition includes $500 in credits for Microsoft’s Azure Mixed Reality developer platform and a three-month trial of the Unity Pro game development platform and the Unity PiXYZ Plugin for CAD data.
With this new device, Microsoft is doubling down on “mixed reality,” the combination of augmented reality — projecting the digital world on top of the real one — and virtual reality.
Microsoft said it has brought more than 20,000 mixed reality developers into its platform over the last year. And the company hopes to triple that number in the next 12 months by and expand its Mixed Reality Developer Community.
According to the HoloLens 2 website, Microsoft is collecting preorders in the U.S., France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and United Kingdom for the headset. The device has not been OK’d by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the website, and can’t be sold until that approval comes through.
The second-generation device aims to improve on three areas: more immersion, more comfort and greater simplicity right out of the box. One of the big knocks on the first HoloLens was a narrow field of vision, but the new version has doubled that.
HoloLens 2 boasts more physical commands than the original. The device recognizes the user’s hands, and it allows users to touch virtual images and interact in several different ways.