Microsoft touts HoloLens rentals, business uses for mixed reality

The Microsoft AR/VR pendulum seems to be swinging back toward emphasizing the potential business use of HoloLens and mixed reality headsets.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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Microsoft is increasing noticeably its emphasis on business-use cases for its mixed-reality products, including the HoloLens and third-party mixed-reality headsets.

In a recap of its mixed reality announcements for February, Microsoft officials noted that it has partnered with Abcomrents to allow North American users to rent HoloLens devices. Microsoft officials said they'll expand the program to additional markets in "the months ahead."

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Abcomrents rents LCD video walls, OLED, and LED touch screen displays, laptops, kiosks, and other tech products to event planners, conventions, and corporations.

Microsoft execs also seem to be stepping up their focus on showing the value of mixed reality/augmented reality wares in the business space.

In the Feb. 14 roundup, Microsoft noted that last month Trimble unveiled a new hard hat that embeds HoloLens glasses.

(Image: Microsoft)

"Trimble Connect (software) for HoloLens is a mixed-reality solution that improves coordination by combining models from multiple stakeholders such as structural, mechanical and electrical trade partners. The solution provides for precise alignment of holographic data on a 1:1 scale on the job site, to review models in the context of the physical environment," explained Microsoft execs.

Trimble Connect for HoloLens is available from the Microsoft Store. The hardware component -- Trimble's Hard Hat Solution for Microsoft HoloLens -- is due to be available some time this calendar quarter.

HP's new Windows Mixed Reality Headset -- Professional Edition is, as the name indicates, a mixed reality headset that's not just for gaming. It's designed for engineering product development, architecture engineering and construction, and maintenance/repair training. And Honeywell Process Solutions just announced a cloud-based simulation tool for mixed-reality training in industrial settings.

Read also: Microsoft makes its HoloLens headset available in 29 more countries

When Microsoft first starting shipping the HoloLens goggles in 2016, the company emphasized business-use cases for the device. With the subsequent release of third-party mixed-reality headsets, however, Microsoft seemed to play up the appeal of these kinds of devices primarily in gaming/entertainment market.

To me, the Microsoft pendulum now seems to be swinging back a bit toward the business world in the mixed reality space. General Manager Lorraine Bardeen, who oversees a new "Mixed Reality in the Modern Workplace" team, is looking to drive the enterprise/work focus of Microsoft's mixed-reality hardware/software/services products.

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