Microsoft set to launch HoloLens mixed reality headset in China

IT giant seeks to engage the growing community of developers through its enterprise-level 3D imaging gear

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 6:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 10:28pm

Microsoft on Thursday said it planned to make its holographic computer headset HoloLens available in China next year as it sought to cater to the growing community of developers in the country.

At its WinHEC conference held in Shenzhen, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and devices group Terry Myerson revealed that the company had already submitted the device for regulatory approval in China and expected the Microsoft HoloLens to start shipping in the first half of next year.

The enterprise-focused HoloLens headset would first be available to commercial customers and developers in China, the company said. The exact price for China has not yet been announced but the device costs US$3,000 in the United States.

The HoloLens was first launched in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom in October this year. China is the second Asian market that will be able to order the HoloLens. The device was launched in Japan last week.

“There is more energy around mixed reality in Asia than in other parts of the world,” said Myerson, adding that there would be an “infraction point” where mixed reality, or the merging of the physical and virtual worlds in real-time to produce a new environment or visualisations, became mainstream.

Myerson also believed that when the technology became more popular, Microsoft’s technology and devices around mixed reality would become a significant part of the company’s business.

Microsoft has also been making a big push into making mixed reality more accessible to consumers, partnering with hardware providers such as Acer, Asus and Lenovo to offer a range of mixed reality headsets to consumers. Headsets produced by Microsoft’s partners would start from US$299, or about a tenth the price of a HoloLens.

The company also revealed that consumers only needed a mid-range PC to use its mixed reality headsets, requiring an Intel Mobile Core i5 dual-core processer, at least 8GB of RAM and 100GB of storage.

At the event, Microsoft also said it would partner with Shenzhen-based virtual reality hardware start-up 3Glasses to bring its Windows Holographic support to 3Glasses’ S1 headset, which will be available for purchase next year.

“What you’re going to start seeing in the next 12 to 18 months is that a lot of these devices, such as 3Glasses’ S1, will start becoming available for consumers to buy and take home,” Microsoft HoloLens creator Alex Kipman said.

“[Originally] such devices [required] … very high-end, expensive PCs. But with our partnership with Intel, we’re lowering those PC specs and doing a lot of work to make sure that the entry into the space becomes much more affordable,” he added.

“Today you can get a US$500 PC and a US$299 headset [from our partners] … to experience the best mixed reality experience out there.”