Microsoft announced plans to offer its well-hyped HoloLens virtual reality headset in six new markets outside North America after what Microsoft calls "tremendous excitement and interest from developers and commercial customers and partners around the globe."
Alex Kipman, technical fellow in the Windows and Devices group, made the announcement in a blog post that the company has opened pre-orders today in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. The headset will begin shipping in those markets in late November.
Interest in augmented reality (AR) and VR products has exploded this year thanks to the shipments of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, among many others. Microsoft is late to the market, but the buzz on HoloLens has been enormous. IDC predicts global revenues for the mixed reality (MR) market will grow from $5.2 billion this year to $162 billion in 2020.
Despite not being commercially available yet, HoloLens has found some interesting use cases, as noted by Neowin. They include:
- Japan Airlines, which has used HoloLens to improve to its training program for the engineers who maintain its fleet.
- Swedish automotive giant Volvo, which is looking at ways to transform the experience of buying a car.
- German industrial engineering giant thyssenkrupp, which is equipping 24,000 of its elevator service technicians with HoloLens after real-world trials enabled them to work "up to four times faster than before."
- NASA, which has used HoloLens to help develop its new Mars Rover, put the headset to use aboard the International Space Station, and is now wowing visitors using HoloLens in its Destination: Mars exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center.
Microsoft opened up sales of its $3,000 HoloLens Development Edition headset to all developers in the U.S. and Canada last August. So far, there are 80 apps for HoloLens in the Windows Store.