Microsoft: The Path To Consumer AR Is ‘Measured In Years’

by Jamie Feltham • March 8th, 2019

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 reveal event last week made one thing clear: this is an enterprise-driven device. If the multiple demos from business partners didn’t make that known, the $3,500 price tag certainly did.

But consumer AR is an increasingly popular topic. We can all see a future where cheaper HoloLens units are giving us map directions and showing virtual Netflix screens. How long will it take to get there? According to Greg Sullivan, Director of Communications for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality arm, it could still be years.

Speaking with UploadVR, Sullivan affirmed the thinking that HoloLens 2 will be an enterprise-level device for its entire life.

“The way that we think about it, and I think it was echoed by Tim Sweeney’s statement last night, is that the consumer journey is probably measured in years,” Sullivan reasoned. “That said we’ve confirmed that our belief that mixed reality at large is, to some degree, the future of the interaction model. We think it is profound value in freeing the digital world from these flat screens that it’s been trapped in for decades and bringing it into the real world with us.”

I did ask Sullivan if Microsoft might be planning any type of consumer stop-gap for HoloLens. Perhaps something that cost a little less but may not be as feature-complete as HoloLens 2. He told me the company had nothing to announce at this time.

Microsoft did launch the original HoloLens with some gaming applications. It was enough to get the attention of the gaming industry. Sullivan argued there was good reason for this.

“In part we didn’t know exactly where the highest return on investment and value would be for this device,” he said. “But it’s also true that the middleware and tools and expertise in creating digital content largely resided in the gaming industry. And so the knowledge and the tools and the expertise to do 3D digital things came from the gaming side.”

Hopefully HoloLens comes full circle one day. Until then, we’ll keep saving.

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