Microsoft @MWC (Mobile World Congress) Day 1: HoloLens 2, Azure-powered Kinect camera and more!

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The ongoing Mobile World Conference 2019 at Barcelona, has an interesting line-up of announcements, keynote speakers, summits, seminars and more. It is the largest mobile event in the world, that brings together the latest innovations and leading-edge technology from more than two thousand leading companies.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ which comprises of the combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and big data.

Microsoft unveiled a host of new products along the same theme on the first day of the conference. Let’s have a look at some of them.

#1 Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR announced!

Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens 2 AR device at the Mobile World Congress (MWC). This $3,500 AR device is aimed for businesses, and not for the average person, yet. It is designed primarily for situations where field workers might need to work hands-free, such as manufacturing workers, industrial designers and those in the military, etc.


This device is definitely an upgrade from Microsoft’s very first HoloLens that recognized basic tap and click gestures. The new headset recognizes 21 points of articulation per hand and accounts for improved and realistic hand motions. The device is less bulky and its eye tracking can measure eye movement and use it to interact with virtual objects. It is built to be a cloud- and edge-connected device. The HoloLens 2 field of view more than doubles the area covered by HoloLens 1.

Microsoft said it has plans to announce a  follow-up to HoloLens 2 in the next year or two. According to Microsoft, this device will be even more comfortable and easier to use, and that it’ll do more than the HoloLens 2. HoloLens 2 is available on preorder and will be shipping later this year.

The device has already found itself in the midst of a controversy after the US Army invested $480 million in more than 100,000 headsets. The contract has stirred dissent amongst Microsoft workers.

#2 Azure-powered Kinect camera for enterprise

The Azure-powered Kinect camera is an “Intelligent edge device that doesn’t just see and hear but understands the people, the environment, the objects, and their actions,” according to Azure VP, Julia White.

This AI-powered smart enterprise camera leverages Microsoft’s 3D imaging technology and can possibly serve as a companion hardware piece for HoloLens in the enterprise. The system has a 1-megapixel depth camera, a 12-megapixel camera and a seven-microphone array on board to help it work  with “a range of compute types, and leverage Microsoft’s Azure solutions to collect that data.” The system, priced at $399, is available for pre-order.

#3 Azure Spatial Anchors

Azure Spatial Anchors are launched as a part of the Azure mixed reality services. These services will help developers and business’ build cross-platform, contextual and enterprise-grade mixed reality applications. According to the Azure blog, these mixed reality apps can map, designate and recall precise points of interest which are accessible across HoloLens, iOS, and Android devices.

Developers can integrate their solutions with IoT services and artificial intelligence, and protect their sensitive data using security from Azure. Users can easily infuse artificial intelligence (AI) and integrate IoT services to visualize data from IoT sensors as holograms.

The Spatial Anchors will allow users to map their space and connect points of interest “to create wayfinding experiences, and place shareable, location-based holograms without any need for environmental setup or QR codes”.

Users will also be able to manage identity, storage, security, and analytics with pre-built cloud integrations to accelerate their mixed reality projects.

#4 Unreal Engine 4 Support for Microsoft HoloLens 2

During the  Mobile World Congress (MWC), Epic Games Founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney announced that support for Microsoft HoloLens 2 will be coming to Unreal Engine 4 in May 2019. Unreal Engine will fully support HoloLens 2 with streaming and native platform integration. Sweeney says that “AR is the platform of the future for work and entertainment, and Epic will continue to champion all efforts to advance open platforms for the hardware and software that will power our daily lives.” Unreal Engine 4 support for Microsoft HoloLens 2 will allow for “photorealistic” 3D in AR apps.

Head over to Microsoft’s official blog for an in-depth insight on all the products released.

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