MSFT Today 2019–02–24 : HoloLens 2, Azure Kinect and MWC19

Brad Groux
Feb 26 · 10 min read

In today’s episode of the Microsoft Today podcast, we discuss Microsoft’s live event at MWC19, including the new HoloLens 2 Mixed Reality device, and the Azure Kinect IoT Edge device. We had a tremendous time covering Microsoft’s MWC19 event yesterday. Your reactions on Twitter, are why this episode has morphed so drastically as I began writing it. It’s all about the power of the pivot, just ask Excel!

MSFT Today 2019–02–24 : HoloLens 2, Azure Kinect and MWC19 — Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or Google

Instead of diving into all of the details about the announcements made today, we are going to do a quick review of what was covered. I believe the technology sand initiatives discussed deserve episodes of their own, and my goal is to give them their own episodes within the next week or two. Seriously, hold me to this — chastise me at @BradGroux on Twitter if I don’t do it!

So let’s jump in, just be sure to stick around until the end. We have some community kudos to give out, and an inspiring new commercial from Common and Microsoft.

Thank All 5,000 of You!!!

Today I’m thrilled to announce that we have surpassed the 5,000 Twitter follower mark. We’ve more than doubled our number of followers since the podcast started six weeks ago — it has been a truly amazing ride! My only regret is not starting this endeavor sooner! It has been a blast, and interacting with the thousands and thousands of listeners and technologists has been amazing.

As a thank you for hitting 5,000 followers on Twitter, I will be releasing two bonus podcast episodes this week — so look for those over the next two days (I’ve begun recording them).

Microsoft at MWC19

Today was a busy day in Barcelona for Microsoft, as they announced more than 10 new products or initiatives spanning the Mixed Reality, cloud services, hardware services, business development and open spectrums. For full details about all of today’s announcements, see the official blog post on our site —

Microsoft at MWC19 Barcelona

A New Day at Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started off the event by discussing a fundamental shift in the company’s philosophy:

“Putting people at the center, instead of the device. For years we have built applications and experiences specifically for given devices. But the interaction model going forward, is with computers and computing, all around us. It is no longer about being device first, it is about putting the human first which includes all of the devices in their lives… to empower every person and every organization on the planet, to achieve more.”

He then goes on say that their success, lies in the success of their partners and customers:

“Our success lies in the success of our partners and customers in our ecosystem. This requires that we collectively move from being just passive consumers of technology to active producers of technology. We create technology, so that our customers can create their own technology… today every company is a tech company… not to become dependent on Microsoft, but to become independent of Microsoft…”

This falls very much in line with why I’ve started this podcast, and why I’ve discussed the topics that we’ve discussed thus far. The future is coming, and you can no longer be passive, you must be proactive, and learn to adapt and utilize the technology that is here. Regardless of your role in the workplace.

Mixed Reality is a technology that merges real and virtual worlds to create brand new environments where physical and digital components can interact in real time. It’s “mixed” reality because it encompasses both augmented/virtual reality and the real world via immersive technology, letting you see the real environment overlaid with holographic data from a 3D model.

HoloLens 2

The HoloLens 2 team focused on three key areas when redesigning the new hardware from the ground up:

Immersion is greatly enhanced by advancements across the board, including in the visual display system, making holograms even more vibrant and realistic

  • The field of view for HoloLens 2 has more than doubled
  • A new display system that excels at low power
  • The new time-of-flight depth sensor and built in AI and semantic understanding allows for interactive holograms
  • The eye-tracking sensors makes interacting with holograms more natural
  • Now with Windows Hello iris recognition

Comfort is enhanced by a more balanced center of gravity, the use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for donning the device without re-adjusting

  • New vapor chamber technology for improved the thermal management
  • Redesigned to allow it to comfortably adjust and fit almost anyone
  • Meant to be used for hours on end now, and the new “flip up” allow for easy on-off usage
  • All told, they’ve more than tripled the measured comfort and ergonomics of the device (not sure how this is done)

Time-to-value is accelerated by Microsoft mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides applications

  • There is a business ready ecosystem of mixed reality partners that provide a broad range of offerings built on HoloLens that deliver value across a range of industries and use cases
  • A new wave of mixed reality entrepreneurs is also helping to accelerate the growth and availability of Mixed Reality tools and applications
  • No longer is there a startup time of 3–6 months for businesses to find value in the Mixed Reality

It was clear from the presentation that HoloLens 2 is much less cumbersome than its predecessor. All the demo wearers looked comfortable wearing it. Kudos to the Microsoft Hardware team!

Microsoft’s Julia Schwarz playfully interacts with Mixed Reality holograms wearing HoloLens 2

HoloLens 2 will be available this year at a price of $3,500. Bundles including Dynamics 365 Remote Assist start at $125/month. HoloLens 2 will be initially available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand. Customers can pre-order HoloLens 2 starting today.

Introducing the Microsoft Hololens 2

Microsoft HoloLens Customization Program

HoloLens is being used in a variety of challenging environments, from construction sites and operating rooms to the International Space Station. HoloLens has passed the basic impact tests from several protective eyewear standards used in North America and Europe.

We’re not sure of just what the customization program entails, but you have to think that the HoloLens hardware was designed in a modular way, to make customization easier. Think of HoloLens 2 as a platform, like the Xbox Adaptive controller — and instead of the inclusive design being focused on those with disabilities, instead it is focused on challenging usage cases and/or environment variables.

Of course, with the hardware improvements in HoloLens 2, especially the eye tracking sensors — there are no doubt many usage cases for those with both physical and learning disabilities.

Trimble — Last year announced Trimble Connect for HoloLens along with a new hard hat solution that improves the utility of mixed reality for practical field applications. Today it announced the Trimble XR10 with Microsoft HoloLens 2, a new wearable hard hat device that enables workers in safety-controlled environments to access holographic information on the worksite.

Trimble XR10 with Microsoft HoloLens 2

Open Principals

Microsoft believes that for an ecosystem to truly thrive there should be no barriers to innovation or customer choice. Microsoft wants the Mixed Reality space to transition from a “walled garden” to a “communal garden.”

“Open to your creativity, open to your ideas, open to your vision…” — Alex Kipman

Microsoft’s Core Commitments to Openness of their Mixed Reality Ecosystem

  1. Open App Store — Developers will have the freedom to make their own stores
  2. Open Web Browsing — Firefox will have a native web browsing experience native on HoloLens Firefox natively)
  3. Open Platform — An open API surface area and driver model, including further guidance with OpenXR

Azure Kinect

The Kinect lives, and is now more powerful than ever! The Azure Kinect DK is a developer kit that combines Microsoft’s industry-leading AI sensors in a single device.

  • At its core is the time-of-flight depth sensor that was developed for HoloLens 2
  • A high-def RGB camera
  • A 7-microphone circular array

The new hardware will enable development of advanced computer vision and speech solutions with Azure. The Azure Kinect DK is initially available in the U.S. and China, and is available for preorder today at $399.

Dynamics 365 Guides

Dynamics 365 Guides is a new mixed reality app that empowers employees to learn by doing.

  • Guides enhances learning with step-by-step instructions that guide employees to the tools and parts they need and how to use them in real work situations
  • In addition to Guides on HoloLens, a Guides PC app makes it easy to create interactive content, attach photos and videos, import 3D models and customize training to turn institutional knowledge into a repeatable learning tool

Dynamics 365 Guides is available in preview starting today.

Dynamics 365 Guides and HoloLens

Azure Mixed Reality Services

Keeping true to Microsoft’s long standing charge under CEO Satya Nadella’s “Cloud First” vision, Microsoft announced more services for their Azure Cloud platform. Today they announced two new Azure mixed reality services. These services are designed to help every developer and every business build cross-platform, contextual and enterprise-grade mixed reality applications.

  • Azure Spatial Anchors — Enables businesses and developers to create mixed reality apps that map, designate and recall precise points of interest that are accessible across HoloLens, iOS and Android devices. In public preview as of today.
  • Azure Remote Rendering — Helps people experience 3D without compromise to fuel better, faster decisions. Today, to interact with high-quality 3D models on mobile devices and mixed reality headsets, you often need to “decimate,” or simplify, 3D models to run on target hardware. In private preview as of today.

Microsoft MWC19 Presenters


We have huge plans for the future of this podcast, and my daily interactions with all of you makes me more steadfast in that resolve by each day. I truly am blessed and humbled by the reception you’ve all given the podcast so far, and I can’t wait for us to have more journeys down the rabbit hole of knowledge together!

To maximize my time, and yours — I need financial assistance to create the podcast I think Microsoft, their technology, employees, fans, and enthusiasts deserves. So far, I’ve bootstrapped everything myself, doing every aspect of the show — which has been a massive yet rewarding… but for a non-paying hobby, is untenable.

Our current revenue options are:

  • PatreonA platform that lets you support the creators you love, and it allows them to offer you perks and rewards for your support. We here at MSFT Today, have come up with what we feel are seriously awesome perks.
  • Episode Ads — The current pre-roll and post-roll ads episode ads are injected automatically by our podcast host, and pays a rather low CPM. Currently there is our only active and steady revenue stream
  • Amazon Affiliate — Do you shop at Amazon? If so, please consider clicking through our affiliate link when you do! It doesn’t cost you anything, but helps us tremendously. THANKS!
  • Official Sponsorships — If you, or anyone you know would like to become show sponsor, please contact us
  • YouTube — To monetize the channel, we must first reach 1,000 subscribers, which requires content

All patrons get access to the MSFT Today OneNote — which includes notes and ideas for upcoming episodes!

MSFT Today Podcast OneNote Notebook

Community Kudos

Thanks so much to everyone for all of your support and interaction. Each and every week I receive so much overwhelmingly good feedback, that keeps me going.

If you are working on something that you’d like to show us, or to maybe even feature on an episode, shoot us a mention on Twitter and/or tag your tweet with #MSFTtoday! We monitor the hashtag daily, and can’t wait to see what you’re up to.

  • Nuno do Carmo — Showed us some love on Twitter this week, and also requested that we cover Linux on Windows, such as WSLinux or WLinux

As I told Nuno, I definitely want to cover open source initiatives and things like Linux and Bash on Windows, Azure, etc. I just don’t want to a disservice to the technology and the people that make it by being wrong! I like to make sure I am well versed on something before speaking on it, and Linux is easily one of my weakest areas.

If you have any advice for getting up to speed, please share. Also, any SMEs or MVPs out there want to take part in an episode — I’d would love have someone on! Check out our tweet!

  • Vivek BavishiWe keep saying it, the Power Platform community is amazing!

“Calendar view in #MicrosoftToDo? Not yet. Nothing’s impossible for a #PowerAddict ! Combine the power of #PowerApps, #MicrosoftFlow and #MicrosoftToDo and voila! here’s a tease to the calendar view.” (source)

Vivek Bavishi’s Microsoft ToDo Clone With Calendar View Built in PowerApps

Its Closing Time

Microsoft dropped a new commercial hot off of the heal of the MWC19 announcements. Microsoft AI: Inspiring Possibility ft. Common

Microsoft AI: Inspiring Possibility ft. Common

“What’s a hammer without a person to swing it? Your possibility is endless, your limits are few…”

That hits me right in the feels, because that is the purpose of Microsoft Today in a nutshell. Like Microsoft, I want to empower you all to be the best you — because we’re here together on this pale blue dot, so we might as well make the best of it!

MSFT Today 2019–02–24 : HoloLens 2, Azure Kinect and MWC19 — Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or Google

Follow or Subscribe to Microsoft Today

Microsoft Today

A Microsoft Podcast and Community

Brad Groux

Written by

Microsoft enterprise expert who after 20 years has decided to transition from Windows Platform to Azure DevOps, Serverless, Microservices & the Power Platform.

Microsoft Today

A Microsoft Podcast and Community

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade