NEW YORK—Microsoft has announced the initial price and approximate availability of its HoloLens augmented reality headset.
As previously implied by CEO Satya Nadella, the first HoloLens will be a developer-oriented unit that Microsoft is calling the “HoloLens Development Edition.” From today, developers will be able to apply online for the opportunity to buy a unit. Those units won’t be cheap, either: the asking price is $3,000 (£2,000), with units expected to ship during the first quarter of 2016.
The hardware is going to be comparable to the units demonstrated earlier this year, though Microsoft says that it has no new information to share regarding specific specs or capabilities. We learned earlier this year that the hardware had an x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac, and a 60Hz refresh rate, so we’d expect the Development Edition to be similar.
The developer focus—and the high price—makes it clear that this isn’t intended to be a consumer-oriented, mass-market device. Nonetheless, the price will likely be a shock to many. Google’s Glass developer program, which had a comparable developer access scheme, had a $1,500 buy-in, making it pricey but arguably within reach of many of those with a keen interest in the device. Microsoft’s hardware is a lot more substantial than Google’s was, as HoloLens is a fully standalone device that includes a custom “holographic processing unit,” so a higher price is understandable. We’ve previously advocated that the hardware be priced high, at least initially, in order to effect a kind of control over who uses it and how and to try to ensure that expectations are kept in line with what the technology is currently capable of. It’s not yet ready for a mass market consumer audience, and treating it as if it is will only lead to disappointment.
Nonetheless, this is a price that is going to put it out of reach of almost all hobbyists or students. For that latter group, Microsoft asked for academic research proposals earlier in the year, and the company will be awarding five successful teams with $100,000 in funding and two HoloLens Development Edition units. The winners of these awards will be announced today.
#ProjectXRay is Microsoft’s development, mixed-reality ROBOT INVASION GAME!
Meet Microsoft Dan, our hero in this tech demo.
One of the updated aspects of HoloLens is the ability to manipulate and grab holograms (like this gauntlet Dan will use to defend himself).
Oh damn, that’s a robot busting through the wall…
.,..and another!? In Project X-Ray, HoloLens allows both the user and the robot AI to react and customize to the room around you. So these Robots know where there are walls and objects.
The holograms even react to each other, so the little bots know to get the heck out of the way for the giant master spider bot…
Beyond the developer edition price, the big HoloLens talking point will likely be Microsoft’s demo, called Project X. The company described this as a mixed-reality, custom gaming experience. Dan, Microsoft’s chosen demo hero, strapped on a HoloLens and prepared to defend the room from a robot invasion (see above). Microsoft noted that upgrades to the HoloLens allowed Dan to interact with holograms in new ways—he was able to grab, wear, and deploy a holographic gauntlet as a weapon—and the holograms themselves could also surveil the room to customize their actions accordingly. Robots came out of the walls set up on stage, and they were able to interact with each other in their attack on Dan.
Microsoft’s event is still in progress, and we’re live on the ground providing updates in a liveblog. We’ll continue to update this post as more information becomes available.
Listing image by Microsoft