Rumors of an early 2019 reveal of HoloLens 2 circulated throughout 2018, and now Microsoft appears to be ready to show off its next-generation augmented reality headset. The company today issued invitations to a media event at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, which will feature one particularly noteworthy speaker: Alex Kipman, a Microsoft technical fellow known for his work on HoloLens.
Scheduled for February 24 at 5 p.m. local time (CET), the event was flagged by Neowin, which claims that Microsoft has selected Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 processor for HoloLens 2, enabling it to offer “always on” PC functionality. As of June 2018, rumors claimed that the new HoloLens would use a midrange, mixed reality-optimized Snapdragon XR1 to improve performance while lowering its price, though Qualcomm subsequently debuted the higher-performance Snapdragon 8cx and Snapdragon 855 for premium PCs and mobile devices, respectively.
Microsoft’s chip selection will be a critical decision for HoloLens 2. The first HoloLens has reportedly sold only tens of thousands of units, and then largely to enterprise customers, in equal parts due to its sky-high $3,000 to $5,000 pricing and limited augmented reality functionality. Though the unit is fully standalone and capable of displaying apps in a small, ghostly window within the user’s field of view, competing products have since been released or shown with dramatically better screens and more powerful processors.
Other scheduled speakers for the MWC event include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and VP of Cloud Platform Julia White, who could speak to HoloLens 2’s enterprise bona fides and/or Azure developments. Surface chief Panos Panay is not expected to speak, suggesting that news on Microsoft’s tablets, laptops, and desktops won’t be on the table at the event.