Even though February 29th happens once every four years, but February 29th, 2016 will stay in memory as a very important day for Virtual and Mixed Reality. First, HTC launched pre-orders for its Vive Virtual Reality system, then Microsoft launched pre-orders for its Augmented Reality system, HoloLens.
Naturally, there is a big difference between the two – HTC Vive will retail for anywhere between $799 (United States) to €899 (European Union), while Microsoft is starting to sell HoloLens Development Edition. This is far from a retail product, and just like Google Glass of yesteryear, Microsoft is pushing all the cost down to developers, and probably not loosing any money on hardware involved.
First and foremost, the price. As we wrote before, Development Edition will set you back for $3,000, and approved developers can buy up to two units per application. For that, you will receive a kit which weights just one pound, or 576 grams. Given that initial prototypes weigh more than double that, it is impressive to see what kind of ‘diet’ HoloLens went through before the Development Edition was allowed to go for pre-order. When it comes to hardware, this is what you will receive:
- Intel 32-bit Atom processor (CPU)
- Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU)
- 3 GB RAM (2 GB for CPU, 1 GB for HPU)
- 64 GB NAND Flash SSD
- 1 IMU
- 4 environment understanding cameras
- 1 depth camera
- 1 2MP photo / HD video camera
- Mixed Reality Capture
- 4 microphones
- 1 ambient light sensor
The hardware above drives the dual 16:9 ‘Light Engines’, driving holographic resolution to 2.3 MPixels (2048×1144 pixels). Operating system is Microsoft Windows 10 Holographic Edition (HE), and in order to develop the applications, your PC needs to support Visual Studio 2015 and Unity Engine 5.4.
If you decide to jump on the HoloLens train, you will receive the following:
- Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition
- Carrying case
- Microfiber cloth
- Micro-USB 2.0 cable
HoloLens Development Edition starts shipping on March 30th, 2016, and will be stacked in ‘waves’. Microsoft estimates each wave will receive hardware in 2-3 months after the first units from the said wave. It is getting exciting.