February 2019 is almost over, which means it’s time to look back and see what’s changed in the Augmented Reality space.
Microsoft unveils new HoloLens 2 Augmented Reality Headset
Microsoft has unveiled the second generation of its augmented reality headset, HoloLens 2, a lighter, more capable, and slightly cheaper version of the original that it released three years ago.
But perhaps most significantly, Microsoft on Sunday also promised that it was committed to openness in the “core principles” of its mixed reality efforts.
Specifically, this means that Microsoft’s hardware would work with the software of other companies and that other developers could create their own app stores for the HoloLens—stores where Microsoft presumably wouldn’t get a cut of every sale.
One of the major new features of Hololens 2 is hand tracking, which allows users to touch and interact with holograms.
In a demo shown on stage Sunday, Hololens 2 was capable of precisely tracking each and every finger, allowing users to touch buttons and even play an AR piano.
Google is testing Augmented Reality for Google Maps
Google Maps’ augmented reality navigation is finally rolling out several months after its debut, although you might still have to wait a while. The company told the Wall Street Journal the walking-focused feature will be available shortly, but only to Local Guides (community reviewers) at first.
The feature will need “more testing” before it’s available to everyone else, Google said. Still, this suggests AR route-finding is much closer to becoming a practical reality.
The feature allows users to point their device and have Google Maps overlay the direction they need to walk. Although there have been various apps over the years that use AR, Google’s implementation adds something special in terms of artificial intelligence.
It primarily uses GPS to locate a given user, but the Maps AR integration then taps into Google Street View imagery to cross-check the location to provide more accurate details.