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Microsoft just unveiled HoloLens 2 at Mobile World Congress and we’re excited to help you prepare for the development of the next generation of augmented reality (AR) experiences in Unity.

Unity’s three-year relationship with Microsoft has enabled developers to build world-class AR experiences spanning immersive entertainment and industry solutions. Just take a look at what we’ve done for automotive & transportation, AEC, EdTech, and more. Brands are using Unity today to revolutionize the way hospitals operate, rethink the world of mobility, and bring 2D blueprints into a 3D world. We can’t wait to see what you build next with HoloLens 2.

Next generation HoloLens

With HoloLens 2, users will be even more immersed in the experience thanks to a field of view (FOV) that’s twice the size of its predecessor at a resolution equivalent to a 2K display for each eye. Those visuals will be more stunning and detailed thanks, in part, to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Compute Platform and a move to a 64-bit OS. This ARM-based architecture boasts higher compute-per-watt capabilities than the first generation HoloLens’ x86 chipset, helping to balance efficiency and computational power. This move will be supported by the release of 64-bit Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support in Unity 2019.1. Additional hardware improvements include an 8MP camera, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, a flip-up visor, and better weight distribution.

User inputs have also received upgrades, allowing for even more flexibility and control over your application’s design and how the user engages with it. HoloLens 2 can now track fully articulated models of both hands, capture the user’s eye gaze, and more accurately action on verbal commands using a noise-canceling microphone array.

The release date for HoloLens 2 is yet to be confirmed, but pre-orders are now available.

Preparing for HoloLens 2 development

We’ve been working with Microsoft since the release of the first generation HoloLens in 2016. We are honored to be powering 91% of all HoloLens applications and experiences and are committed to collaborating with Microsoft to get you ready for HoloLens 2.

Over the next few months, you’ll see the release of new development tools, updated documentation, and additional design guidance. Until then, you can always use the first generation HoloLens as a foundation towards HoloLens 2. Below are answers to questions you may have:

What will I need for HoloLens 2 development?

You will need Unity 2018.3 or Unity 2019.1b, and Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Toolkit v2 (MRTK v2) which is currently in beta. HoloLens 2 support will release with MRTKv2 RC1 in March 2019.

What considerations are there in choosing between Unity 2018.3 or Unity 2019.1b?

Microsoft currently recommends Unity 2018.3 as it’s the most stable environment and supports 32-bit ARM. At Mobile World Congress, you saw multiple demos that used Unity 2018.3 to create impressive, highly performant experiences.

You also have the choice of using Unity 2019.1b (currently in beta) for projects that require additional performance gains. Unity 2019.1b is the first version that supports 64-bit ARM for UWP and, generally speaking, 64-bit provides performance advantages.

Where can I learn more about Microsoft’s MRTK v2 and future support for HoloLens 2?

Visit Microsoft’s guide on Getting Started with MRTK v2 to learn more about the toolkit and check out the MRTK v2 roadmap which outlines a timeline for upcoming releases from Microsoft.

Where can I learn more about porting my first generation HoloLens app to HoloLens 2?

Microsoft will provide guidance on porting applications over the next few months. Learn more here.

That’s a brief overview of the new hardware and how to start preparing for HoloLens 2 development in Unity. We’ll keep you updated on important releases and feel free to visit Unity’s Windows Mixed Reality forums if you have questions, tips to share, or just want to update the community on your progress.

11 replies on “HoloLens 2 is coming: What you need to know”

Thanks for the post. Although the porting of the first generation HoloLens app to HoloLens 2 is a very important aspect, easy way of building/porting HoloLens 2 developed app to HoloLens 1 is even more important, considering companies would have both in use. And it should be supported by Unity 2019.1b and higher for performance advantages on HoloLens 2. Any information on this available from Unity/Microsoft? Thanks.

2019.x versions of Unity result in reduced developer productivity due to the choice to remove .NET-proper support in favor of IL2CPP-only.
IMHO you should focus on contributing to the .NET Foundation to improve native compilation there and tackle the specific needs you believe you need to address — but trying to reshape .NET compilation yourself, projects that Unity thinks they know compilation better than anybody else and results in a suboptimal developer experience.
HoloLens development is HIGHLY iterative for most — and among dozens of HoloLens developers I met, none of them expressed that they would choose IL2CPP as their first choice during development — only perhaps for a final store-submission build, but not when you make code changes perhaps many times per hour.

Yup, this whole IL2CPP thing is a big mess. I work in AR dev full-time in a massive company, and nobody here is interested in using IL2CPP either. It just gets in the way of iterating quickly and reduces productivity/functionality.

Thanks for the info. Microsoft’s messaging has implied that they are prioritizing HoloLens 2 order fulfillment towards the «industry» — the enterprise/workforce they envision as the end users (medical, factories, military, etc.) with no mention that I’ve seen of a «dev kit» or delivery pipeline for us developers who are/would be creating the software for those users (like there was with the HoloLens 1). I don’t suppose Unity has any more insight as to how MS plans to support developers? As it stands right now it sounds like we will get «back of the line» status in the preorder queue.

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