Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) put up an impressive performance at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), held in Barcelona. The company rolled out its HoloLens 2 mixed-reality (MR) headsets and demonstrated use cases, focused on enhancing business value. The other major takeaways from the event include the roll out of Azure Kinect and Azure Spatial Anchors.
HoloLens 2 Ups Ante in Mixed Reality
Microsoft’s launch of HoloLens 2 at the MWC 2019 grabbed the limelight in the event.
With focus on enterprise, the company demonstrated various use cases of this ergonomic device’s services. These include transforming the health sector with enhanced surgeries, the utility sector with improvised construction technology and asset management with its robust industrial equipment monitoring techniques, to mention a few.
The device’s Windows Hello facial-recognition option feature for logging-in with eye tracking on a real-time basis, along with holographic lenses offering immersive view, makes it a compelling option. The headset leverages Qualcomm’s (QCOM - Free Report) Snapdragon 850 processor.
HoloLens 2 is priced at $3500, currently. Also, Microsoft is offering this device with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, at a monthly subscription fee of $125.
Notably, HoloLens 2 comes almost four years after the introduction of its prior version. HoloLens 2’s fieldview is expanded twice when compared with the previous device and is claimed to be “three times more comfortable”.
Microsoft’s HoloLens offers MR technology and has gained significant adoption among developers, ranging from defense (the U.S. army, Israel army), healthcare, architecture, construction industries to the scientific research domain. Notably, the term “mixed reality”, coined by Microsoft, implies a merger of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies.
The company believes that growing clout of hologram technology (superimposition of digital holograms or digital logos onto the real physical world) among enterprises and in workplaces favors the prospects of the latest headset.
In addition, Microsoft launched Azure Kinect, a smart artificial intelligence (AI) driven camera, raising its stakes against cloud rivals Amazon's (AMZN - Free Report) Amazon Web Services ("AWS"), Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google cloud platform, among others. Reportedly, AWS had rolled out an AI camera for developers in the later half of 2017. Meanwhile, Google Clips AI camera is aimed at direct consumer end-market.
Azure Kinect, priced at $399, features a 12-megapixel (MP) camera, as well as a 1 MP camera for immersive capabilities to support various edge compute technologies. The system also has a seven-microphone array. It is already witnessing adoption from AVA Retail (to facilitate automated checkout option) and Ocuvera (to analyze certain health issues of Cleveland Clinic patients).
The company also unveiled Azure Spatial Anchors to enable developers design MR applications which are spatially aware. In its preview phase, the platform comes free of cost, with the pricing yet to be decided. The new platform supports Google's ARCore and Apple's ARKit (apart from HoloLens) to enable developers to work with iOS and Android devices.
What Investors Should Know?
Talking about HoloLens 2, Microsoft had been exploring various use cases of HoloLens for a while now.
In the recent past, the company secured a U.S. army contract, worth $480 million by which it will provide HoloLens headsets befitting the requirements to deal with both live combat and training purpose. To this effect, HoloLens was enhanced with thermal sensing, scrutinize concussions, hearing protection and night vision features, among others. Further, the company fortified its presence in the MR space by introducing the Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.
The demonstration of HoloLens 2 at MWC 2019 is a smart move, in sync with its efforts to get ahead of the curve by adding innovative MR techniques. The subscription offering with Dynamics 365 (D365) is anticipated to aid the company in strengthening its competitive position in the enterprise software domain.
Notably, increasing spending on AR/VR tech presents alluring market opportunities. Market research firm, IDC, projects global spending on AR/VR to witness a five-year CAGR of 71.6%, between 2017 and 2022.
Moving to Azure Kinect and Azure Spatial Anchors, we believe Microsoft’s initiatives to enhance its offerings with AI and emerging technology will boost innovation among developers. Furthermore, focus on embracing an open-source culture favors long-term prospects of the recently-launched camera and edge platform.
Microsoft currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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