What you need to know
- Microsoft recently shared several success stories surrounding its HoloLens 2 headset.
- The company has brough together Dynamic 365 Guides and Dynamic 365 Remote Assist into a single experience.
- Microsoft Teams now fully integrates with HoloLens 2 as well, providing an experience that's optimized for the virtual canvas provided by the augmented reality headset.
- Microsoft also discussed the future of the HoloLens platform, including hints of a HoloLens 3.
Microsoft shared a pair of blog posts summarizing the progress and success of its HoloLens 2. The tech giant has brought together several of its popular services and capabilities to improve collaboration within augmented reality. Full Microsoft Teams integration with HoloLens 2 headlines a wave of updates that center on collaboration.
Microsoft also highlighted several partnerships, including its work with Toyota.
The company also discussed, or at least hinted at, the next version of HoloLens. The status of HoloLens 3, or whatever Microsoft chooses to name its next AR headset, has reportedly been up in the air. Microsoft has gone on record today, stating that the next device would need to mark a "meaningful" jump in hardware and abilities.
Microsoft Teams on HoloLens 2
Microsoft has had collaboration tools since the launch of HoloLens, but it is now bringing them together. Microsoft 365 Guides and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist are now available through a unified experience. The combined tools allow people to switch between different types of collaboration, such as Microsoft Teams meetings and guiding people through a process with first-person filming and augmented reality guidance.
“Someone can grab a HoloLens, start a Guides session, and literally have a trainer in their head,” said Scott Evans, Microsoft Vice President of Mixed Reality. “If they do need help, they can call an expert right from the app.”
HoloLens 2 users can now see what's being shared within a Teams meeting, like a whiteboard or a browser tab. Shared content can be resized and arranged as a hologram within the field of view of HoloLens 2.
It's now possible to check calendars and agendas while using HoloLens 2 as well. The view connects to options for calling other people, joining meetings, and communicating with people in other ways through Teams. Text chat is supported as well on HoloLens 2.
Connecting 2D and 3D
The mixed reality toolbar in Teams desktop allows participants to mark up the real world shown by a HoloLens 2 headset. A person on a desktop can draw on their own screen and have those markings attached in virtual space to the view of a HoloLens 2 user.
The new capabilities for HoloLens 2 provide a robust Teams experience optimized for augmented reality. Rather than dealing with a single virtual window for Teams, different functionality can be split into resizable holograms. As illustrated by Microsoft, a person has one window showing a shared PDF document and another with a video call and a chat thread.
A story of hammering a door guard on a vehicle was used to illustrate the usefulness of HoloLens 2. At a Toyota Logistics Center in New Jersey, a worker struggled to hammer the panel with the correct amount of force. Using too much or too little power could be detrimental to the task. A colleague in California could direct the worker through HoloLens 2, advising them to listen for a specific sound and then relaying that tone through.
Rather than just being used to help in a specific instance, that encounter was recorded through HoloLens 2 and added as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guide to help future workers.
“The killer metric for Toyota is speed,” Kleiner said. “The faster we can train people and solve problems, the faster we can get a product to market. That’s why we want to overcome location, we want to overcome time, and we want people to move faster and share knowledge. HoloLens has enabled us to do all that," said David Kleiner, the lead of Toyota's Motor North America’s Applied Technology Research Lab.
He added, "These employees don’t have desks; giving them a laptop just won’t work,” Toyota’s Kleiner said. “We want HoloLens to be our screens for our frontline workers. When they’re wearing a HoloLens, they now have a screen that gives them all the digital tools they need."
The future of HoloLens
The future of HoloLens has been unknown for quite some time. The HoloLens team was reportedly trapped in a state of confusion and uncertainty, and ex-HoloLens lead Alex Kipman left Microsoft. Now, Microsoft Vice President of Mixed Reality Scott Evans has commented on the next version of HoloLens.
Our senior editor Zac Bowden took a closer look at the situation, but the key takeaway is that Microsoft wants the next version of the AR headset to be a "meaningful update."
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.