Microsoft is getting its HoloLens Augmented Reality (AR) headset into the hands of developers next month: HoloLens will start shipping in limited quantities to developers on March 30, the company announced Monday. However, the headset won’t exactly come cheap: The HoloLens developer edition will sell for a whopping $3,000. Qualified developers can start pre-ordering the device now.
HoloLens differs from virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive in that it lets users explore the world around them, with holographic animations projected on top of a user’s field of view. VR headsets, on the other hand, typically try to block out the real world completely, and instead transport users into a virtual world made up of videos, animation or a combination of the two.
Microsoft drove home that difference in a new HoloLens video published Monday:
There are some additional differences between HoloLens and the first VR headsets that are going to start selling this spring: The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both use external positional tracking devices to keep track of a user’s movements in a predefined space. Microsoft’s HoloLens, on the other hand, has all of its sensors on board: The device contains a total of six cameras to capture and make sense of a user’s environment as well as a number of microphones and other sensors.
HoloLens is also completely self-contained, meaning that all the computation necessary to render and display holographic projections is done on the headset itself. That’s different from the first generation of VR headsets, which require high-powered computers or game consoles to do the heavy lifting.
The Oculus Rift, for example, won’t work unless it is plugged into a high-powered computer, which costs at least $1,000 on its own. Add to it the $600 price tag of the headset, and the HoloLens developer kit doesn’t look quite as expensive anymore.