Standalone or Wide field-of-view HMD? (HoloLens vs. Meta2)
Up to date, two of the most promising Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) for Augmented Reality (AR), are Microsoft HoloLens and Meta2. The two (still experimental) optical see-through HMDs have similar appearance and (presumably also similar weights – no full specs available). Several technical characteristics of the two are comparable, yet there are few major differences one has to consider to determine which HMD is more appropriate for a given scenario.
On short, HoloLens has a small field-of-view (FOV) but it already incorporates a 32-bit computer in the HMD (2GB RAM + 1GB RAM for the Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit). Meta2’s has better optics featuring an impressively large screen FOV, but has no processing unit.
HoloLens platform is powerful enough to support the whole human computer interaction, including the data processing and the (3D) visualization.
On the other hand, Meta2 HMD does not include any computer – it is just an external (very good) AR visualization device. This aspect represents a big drawback, because another (mobile/heavy and powerful/expensive) computer has to do all the work, and because the HMD cable connecting Meta2 to the computer limits the mobility and the interaction in AR.
Both platforms are excellent for researchers and for hobbyists. Apart from them, companies have to propose AR HMD-based solutions easy to monetize, to identify realistic production or entertaining scenarios that are appropriate for the capabilities of the current and yet-to come consumer AR HMDs. Microsoft HoloLens is more like a mobile, ready-to-go, full-solution AR HMD, while Meta2 is an excellent external visualization HMD providing higher immersion in AR. This is just another (essential) intermediary step towards future AR technologies which will enhance our everyday live.
Discussion and Comparison
Both are optical see though Head Mounted Displays (HMDs)
They have similar form factor design and appearance, and presumably similar weight
Both HMDs have capabilities for remote collaboration in AR
Both are experimental devices (for development only)
Meta 2 design is newer than HoloLens
field of view: Meta2 (90-degree – excellent, almost the same as Samsung Gear VR 96-degree) – that is better than for HoloLens (not specified exactly). Meta2 provides higher immersion in AR, and more natural interaction support
HoloLens is a self-contained computer while Meta2 is just a visualization-only HMD; the price is naturally higher for HoloLens
HoloLens is already shipping, Meta2 takes pre-orders and starts shipping in Q3 2016