Capacitive eye tracking technology could be featured in Microsoft's HoloLens 2

Capacitive eye tracking technology could be featured in Microsoft's HoloLens 2

The HoloLens is an innovative device that is yet to have it's consumer debut, but this fact isn't stopping Microsoft, who is already looking for new ways to upgrade its creation. The software giant has recently filed a patent application under the title "CAPACITIVE SENSORS FOR DETERMINING EYE GAZE DIRECTION" and the technology described in said application aims to improve upon a control mechanism that is currently used in HoloLens called Gaze.

Instead of implementing cameras inside the headgear frame to track eye movement and positioning - an effective but very costly and energy inefficient approach that also adds bulk to any device, Gaze uses β€œthe position and orientation of a user's head, not their eyes, to determine their gaze vector.”. This method might be regarded as a bit too basic and inaccurate for such a high tech gadget, and it is no wonder that Microsoft is planning on addressing the issue in the future.

The approach featured in the patent is very straightforward, inconspicuous and most importantly – cheap. A cluster of transparent capacitive sensors will be placed on the lenses of the smartglasses in order to detect the location and distance to the bulge (or cornea) of one's eyes. This information will then be processed and used to determine the direction of one's gaze. Rapid eye movements will also be successfully tracked, as the technology is also described as very fast and with low latency.

As with all patents, it is not clear when or where exactly will users benefit from this invention, but considering the efficacy and supposed low costs of this method, it will not be a huge surprise if we see it featured on version 2.0 of the HoloLens.

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6 Comments

1. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

with the news over magic leap's fake demo,microsoft is now the only major player on AR sector....i smell another monopoly

2. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

That's like saying because Apple released the iphone they were going to be a monopoly, yet there are many smart phones all over the world and iphone doesn't even lead in market share. A monopoly goes out of their way to stop competitors from gaining traction. MS is not doing anything like that. In fact, MS is more competitor friendly than any company right now.

3. sgodsell

Posts: 6739; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Not to belittle this technology, but judging from this eye gaze tracking. It looks like the sensors have to be placed some distance away from your eyes. Therefore adding bulk. But then again Hololens has a lot of space inside its helmet. As far as regular VR headsets or better yet the smaller VR headsets, then I don't see this working unless they can really reduce the size down. I know you love all things Microsoft Martineverest. But wow, how the hell could anyone say a monopoly with any of this current technology. Hololen's AR is cool, but price and FOV right now spell niche. I know Microsoft has introduced holographics and even has inexpensive $300 VR headsets (not AR) coming out next year. AR is still in its infancy, especially when there are other AR solutions out their like Tango which is in Lenovo's Phab 2 pro, Moto Z Tango Mod coming soon, as well as other Tango smartphones coming down the pipes. I know it's not the same as Hololens, but at least Tango can still map out, and track the real world in front of you similar to Hololens. Tango can even take real world measurements. Many don't want to wear a big helmet on their head like Hololens, where as many of us already carry a smartphone. Not to mention the pricing difference is night and day for mobile smartphones and Hololens. Also magic leap said that their tracking technology is coming to some headsets next year. It's not gaze tracking, but hand or immediate vicinity FOV tracking. So spacial awareness is coming to mobile devices, it's not up to the standards of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PS VR. So at least Magic Leap has given something. I know it's not the actual glasses that they promised, but this mobile spacial awareness technology will help to bring more VR, AR, or MR to the masses. Therefore helping mobile to become the dominant force in the future.

4. akaliel

Posts: 34; Member since: Jun 19, 2015

I wouldn't trust anything Magic Leap says at this point.

5. cdgoin

Posts: 614; Member since: Jul 28, 2010

Personally, I see VR googles as not much more than gimmicks. Once they get lighter, and find a way to not cause headaches and adjust for peoples vision if they wear glasses. Then maybe. Until then just a geek toy / gimmick like Google Glass except in limited situations.

6. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Right now they allow for people using glasses to wear them. They still have to get ligther and even more important get rid of the wires. But they are no gimmick, they are just the first products of something that is coming, does not matter who likes it or who does not.

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