While the consensus among some in the augmented reality community is that the Microsoft HoloLens is the best device available at present, it also remains the most cost-prohibitive option, with the development edition costing $3,000.
To give customers another option to work with the HoloLens, Microsoft has partnered with Abcomrents, a company that specializes in renting technology for use in trade show exhibitions, to offer the HoloLens for rent.
Announced in a blog post by Lorraine Bardeen, the general manager of mixed reality experiences at Microsoft, the program is currently only available to customers in North America, with more markets to be added in the coming months.
A company spokesperson for Abcomrents declined to provide a price list for HoloLens rentals, but the company says that the cost will vary based on how the devices will be used.
The program is ideal for enterprises who are evaluating the technology for use in their businesses. Companies who are already invested in using the HoloLens can use the service to supplement device inventory, particularly for trade shows.
Also unveiled in Bardeen's post was the Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency, a cumbersomely-named cloud-based simulator for training plant personnel on various operations tasks. The simulator could be a critical tool for companies looking to solve knowledge transfer issues, with close to half of plant workers coming up for retirement within the next five years, according to Bardeen.
"By implementing experiences that take advantage of both HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality immersive headsets, Honeywell has been able to deploy a solution that directly links industrial staff competency to plant performance by measuring the training's effectiveness based on real outcomes," wrote Bardeen.
Bardeen also used the opportunity to highlight a new HoloLens solution from Trimble, a developer of augmented reality applications for the construction industry. Available in the Microsoft Store, Trimble Connect for HoloLens enables holographic visualizations of job site models and engineering drawings so that trade workers can understand where electrical and mechanical components should be installed on a job site.
"The best part of my job is seeing what people around the world are doing with mixed reality," wrote Bardeen. "The innovation and development we see on the platform inspires us to create the software and tools needed to bring the potential of mixed reality to life."