Microsoft working on making its HoloLens AR headset dramatically better

No, it is not the new HoloLens. It is just a prototype display with an 80 degrees wide field of view in an “eyeglasses-like” setting. And on the next picture is the same prototype displaying an augmented image.

No, it is not the new HoloLens. It is just a prototype display with an 80 degrees wide field of view in an “eyeglasses-like” setting. And on the next picture is the same prototype displaying an augmented image.


Microsoft’s AR headset HoloLens is still available for developers only, and there are no signs that the situation could change in the foreseeable future. But it seems that the company has not given up the idea of making its augmented reality gizmo more consumer-friendly. In fact, it is working on improvements that may open the path to a next-generation HoloLens – one that's more compact and delivers dramatically improved visuals.

What's wrong with Microsoft’s current HoloLens model? Well, pricing and availability aside, it is still quite bulky, no matter how cool it looks in demos, when it puts digital objects in the real world before your eyes. And no less importantly, it has a relatively narrow field of view – 30 by 17 degrees. To give you a rough idea of what this means, it is like having a screen 6 inches wide by 3.4 inches tall at a distance of 12 inches away from your face – that's the visual area HoloLens can currently cover.

In a recently published paper – linked at the bottom and loaded with technical details – Microsoft's research team outlines the technology behind its latest prototypes in the field of augmented reality and what they improve upon. Among the most notable advancements is the development of displays with an 80 degrees wide field of view. At the same time, these are small enough to fit in regular eyeglasses. The document mentioned above also describes features that would enable users to see the augmented images properly even if they wear prescription glasses.


Alas, these are just some early research prototypes we are talking about. As Microsoft points out, there is still a lot of work to be done, and there are many technical challenges to be met before the prototypes could integrate all features into a single stand-alone AR headset. For example, a practical device would require better integration of eye tracking, the company says. Interestingly, this is exactly where one of the recent Microsoft patents seems to fit well. 

As a reminder, last December, the software giant filed a patent application offering a straightforward and presumably cheap method for eye tracking based on a capacitive technology – a solution that also looks applicable to wearable AR devices. Earlier in 2016, Microsoft made its AR headset HoloLens available for developers outside North America allowing more engineers to experiment with the device and to search for possible applications.

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5 Comments

1. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

they will likely monopolise AR race with their numerous patents....google and apple need to act fast to avoid another monopoly like deskstop pc

2. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

Can you remember all the immature hype there was when this sh*t was announced. Finally it doesn't stand a chance on the market. Same as the Windows 10 Universal Apps and countless other techs from Micro$oft

3. sgodsell

Posts: 7007; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Martineverst if you have been following all the AR news. Then you would have know that Google has been doing tons of work in AR. Also AR is not going to be taking over. More like MR is, especially since it's the best of both worlds. VR's full displays and high FOV, plus if you throw some cameras in front of that VR headset, then you now have AR as well. Hence MR. As a matter of fact many OEMs are working on MR headsets like that, and will arrive this year. Even Apple is said to release an AR/MR headset. So if you think both Google and Apple are standing still. Think again. Mobile VR currently holds the lions share of VR users.

4. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

nah, there will likely be a nice share between the 3 versus less companies. There's nothing wrong with monopolies as long as they open their software up to everyone. MS seems to be doing that. Android is a monopoly. Microsoft has learned from the past while Google is still making mistakes. Taking patient data for AI enhancements is a good indication of something that just shouldn't have happened. I wouldn't want my medical records taken by Google without knowing or having a choice.

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