Microsoft Patent Hints At Potential VR Features For HoloLens

by David Jagneaux • March 3rd, 2016

HoloLens, the AR headset coming soon from Microsoft, still has a lot of mystery surrounding it. Just this week Microsoft finally announced when developers can expect to receive the device and the first-ever HoloLens games and experiences made their debut as well. The developer’s kit of the device will come packaged with not only HoloStudio, which allows in-AR editing and creation, but Skype, and HoloTour as well, in addition to Fragments, Young Conker, and RoboRaid.

However, on Feb. 25, a patent was published indicating Microsoft’s plans for the HoloLens may reach further than just augmented reality. The patent in question was initially filed internationally on Aug. 19, 2015 with the title: “HEAD-MOUNTED DISPLAY WITH ELECTROCHROMIC DIMMING MODULE FOR AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY PERCEPTION,” clearly pointing toward a mixed-use device.

hololens vr patent image

An excerpt from the text of the patent itself reads:

The dimming module (198) includes at least one electrochromic cell (400) that enables variable density dimming so that the NED device (14r, l) may be used in an augmented reality (AR) and/or virtual reality (VR) application.

If an HMD like the HoloLens were able to reliably contain features of both AR and VR in a single unit, that would open up a whole new realm of possibilities. As of now, AR is in its early stages, still ironing out the kinks and figuring out how things work. As impressive as technologies like Meta look in videos and on paper, it’s still a few years before anything approaches consumer-level readiness.

On the other hand, VR is hitting the masses this year, with devices like the Samsung Gear VR already publicly available. How Microsoft intends to combine the two concepts into a single device, or if they actually plan to at all, remains to be seen. Patents are filed all the time, never resulting in anything.

I reached out to a Microsoft PR representative in charge of the HoloLens team for a comment and she replied, “After reaching out to my HoloLens colleagues, they have nothing to share at this time,” which neither confirms nor denies any of the speculation.

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