When Microsoft first unveiled the HoloLens mixed-reality headset nearly four years ago, skeptics wondered whether the floating holograms of the bulky headset could serve the design and construction industry as more than a display tool. But after working closely with industry partners Bentley Systems and Trimble, Microsoft has announced HoloLens 2, bringing a more powerful and lighter headset with versions for construction users.
The headset projects holographic images into the wearer’s field of view, and sensors allow the images to be mapped to surfaces and locations around the user. Unlike the previous model, HoloLens 2 features a wider field of view, a flip-up visor, and can fully track hand and finger movements for interactions. But industry users will probably be equally interested in the Synchro XR app from Bentley and the XR10 hardhat-ready HoloLens 2 from Trimble.
“Imagine a future where every construction worker can visualize what their project will look like in two days, or even two weeks,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a keynote at the MWC conference in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24. “Predicting what will happen with astounding accuracy, they can understand the state of the construction site no matter how complex.”
Bentley’s Synchro XR for HoloLens lets multiple users in different locations collaborate on the same 4D BIM file for design reviews. Work done in the HoloLens 2 app is seamlessly integrated into the Bentley Synchro platform.
But HoloLen 2 is targeted at more than the design phase. The Trimble XR10 is a HoloLens 2 headset that can comfortably clip to a standard hardhat and meets OSHA regulations for PPE. “The XR10 really gives us the ability to access those frontline workers on the jobsite,” says Aviad Almagor, director of mixed reality for Trimble. “The technology is now mature enough to provide benefits on site.”
The XR10 will be available as just a headset or bundled with Trimble’s MR software for model viewing and jobsite visualization. Microsoft is expected make the HoloLens 2 available later this year.