Microsoft Unveils the $3500 HoloLens 2 Development Edition Headset For Developers
Microsoft unveiled its mixed reality headset, the HoloLens 2, during this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona which will ship later this year. However, the software company has announced that there will be two versions of its mixed reality device. During this week’s Microsoft Dev Days, the software giant revealed that there will also be a HoloLens2 Development Edition mixed reality headset that is designed to give creators an easier access onto the platform.
The Development Edition will not have any special hardware or unique specifications but it will be coming with plenty of goodies. Microsoft will be partnering with Unity for the release which will give buyers a three-month Unity Pro trial along with the PiXYZ plugin used in transferring CAD files into Unity. Additionally, buyers will also receive $500 in free Azure credits.
Potential buyers will also need to join the Microsoft Mixed Reality Developer Program (it’s free to join) to get the HoloLens 2 Development Edition. Creators who have already placed orders for the HoloLens 2 standard edition and would wish to change their pre-orders will be able to do so later in the year.
For many developers, the cost of hardware is one of the biggest bottlenecks to mixed reality (MR) development. The original HoloLens mixed reality headsets was retailing for $3000 while the HoloLens2 will be going for $3500 when the headsets arrive. However, Microsoft will be making the device more accessible through an installment payment plan. Users can choose to pay an outright price of $3500 or latch on an installment plan of $99 per month. Microsoft is offering the installment payment plan in order to encourage more development studios to join the platform. Microsoft has also stated that the HoloLens 2 Development Edition will not be open for pre-orders so the only way for creators to get a hold of this particular edition is by joining the developer program. However, the standard HoloLens 2 edition can still be pre-ordered. This is a natural fit for both HoloLens and Unity as approximately 90% of HoloLens applications are currently developed in Unity.
The synergy will allow people who have never used HoloLens to get started right away and successfully build apps using the platform. Unity expects that once creators have learned how to use Unity and HoloLens together via the three-month trial version, they will be able to keep building on the platform. Pairing the Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 with Unity’s real-time 3D development platform will help industrial enterprises create immersive and interactive experiences that will help streamline their businesses and cut down on costs. The addition of the Unity Pro along with the PiXYZ Plugin will also allow enterprise creators to import 3D data into Unity in just a matter of minutes rather than hours thereby streamlining the development process.
Given that no special hardware features have been added to the HoloLens 2 Development Edition, the unveiling of the edition might feel like a marketing gimmick. However, it still packs enough goodies to provide creators with some really good value while making the path to acquisition more accessible via the installment plan.
During the announcement, Microsoft also revealed that Unreal Engine support for HoloLens 2 will be unveiled by the end of May.
HoloLens 2 debuted some outstanding features when it was first showcased earlier this year. The video below, shown during the Barcelona MWC, offers a highlight of the mixed reality headset.
The headset featured significant improvements over the previous version. These include an expanded field of view (FOV), better eye tracking along with full hand tracking. Those who have tried the headset say it is now more comfortable due to the change in the design of the centre of balance and the fact that the front part of the MR headset will now flip up so as to get in or out of the mixed reality experience quickly and more easily.
No specific date for the release has been divulged yet. The best that we have is “later this year”. However, in anticipation of the release of the Development Edition, you can sign up freely on the Microsoft Mixed Reality Development Program.