We caught up with our Innovation team engineers Andy Brittan and Stephen Cook to discuss the HoloLens 2. We recently invested in the new technology to bring our digital solutions to the next level and wanted to find out some of the main differences between the HL 2 and the original, and some of the exciting ways the tech is being used.


What are the main differences between the Hololens and Hololens 2 in terms of usability?

One of the first things you notice with the HL2 is the increased field of view (FoV), this increased FoV is almost double that of the first HL unit. This is an excellent improvement as sometimes with the older device you got the impression of looking at something through a letter box if too near to the hologram, leading to cut off edges. The much larger FoV immerses the user within the holograms far more effectively than the previous generation was able to, allowing for expanded experiences and fixing many of the letterbox issues.

Another benefit of the HL2 is the ergonomics, the unit itself is only 13 grams lighter than the old unit however the heavy compute pack has been moved to the back of the band meaning the overall weight is much more evenly distributed on the wearers head, increasing comfort. The headband has also been re-worked and is now substantial ratchet system much like that used on popular VR Headsets such as the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR.

The hand tracking is also greatly improved from the already impressive system found on the HL1. The HL2 can track your entire hand and each finger independently, this allows for more immersive AR experiences and encourages the use of natural motions such as reaching out to press a button.

The device is also more powerful than the HL1, which allows us to create far more immersive and complex graphics and programs than was previously possible.

What new functions are introduced in the Hololens 2?

Aside from the new hand tracking mentioned earlier, my favourite new function of the HL2 is the iris recognition and tracking.

This system replaces the traditional password sign in and instead uses your iris to log you into the device, so far it’s been very fast and reliable and feels like something out of a sci-fi movie, while providing secure and easy logging into device and many different people.

Secondly the fact that the headset can track where you are looking opens some really interesting doors from a developer point of view. For example, if you were reading some text, the HL2 will know you are nearing the bottom of the page and automatically scroll up for you. Another use case could be a specific action happening when you look at a certain part of a hologram or other item, this really adds an immersive element to gesture control.

Have you been working on anything exciting with the Hololens 2?

To be honest, just getting our hands on the devices was pretty exciting on its own, but it’s been hectic with multiple projects to take full advantage of the new features and power since then.

We are working with a shipping company to add AR functionality onboard cargo ships, many of the features we are looking to integrate would not have been possible before the HL2.

In house Factory Acceptance Testing can now be recorded or better yet live streamed to the client as an interactive holographic Teams call. This has been a very exciting concept given the issues with travel at the moment and as a bonus can help the environment now and in the future by reducing the need for travel.

Last but definitely not least, we have been busy porting our existing Digital Advantage software to the new Hololens. Thanks in part to our software engineer as well as the Mixed Reality Toolkit, we quickly ported over all of our existing offerings and we are now looking to add fully featured Mixed Reality simulation and training packages to the HL2. That’s pretty exciting as the previous iteration was only available on VR headsets due to the HL1’s hardware limitations.

What advice would you give to someone looking to adopt this technology for use in their projects?

I would say that anyone who is interested in this technology should go for it! The last few years have seen such an incredible advancement of the tech as well as the ease of integration. The hardware itself has also seen a significant reduction in price and an increase in processing power, meaning that is a viable option for more and more companies.

In short, the use cases to support this tech as well as the potential benefits to safety, upskilling and cost saving makes it hard to be overly sceptical!


For more on our digital solutions, click here:https://boothwelsh.co.uk/portfolio/digitalisation/ or contact our team for further information: Stephen Cook (stephen.cook@boothwelsh.co.uk) Andrew Brittan (andrew.brittan@boothwelsh.co.uk)