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Microsoft Flat Lens Patent Could Improve Next Generation HoloLens

The current version of HoloLens is not generally considered to be its final iteration. The current build is available only to developers and certain enterprise customers selected by Microsoft, partially since there are still a number of criticisms of the HoloLens in its current version, including its narrow field-of-view and its sheer bulk due to the number of sensors it requires. The latter issue may be on its way to improvement thanks to a patent filed by Microsoft.

In order to use its sophisticated depth-sensing technology, the HoloLens is packed with various sensors, such as the depth sensor, based on technology used in the Kinect, which uses an infra-red projector and camera to do a ‘time of flight’ depth sensing assessment of the environment. This sensor is one of the bulkiest parts of the HoloLens assembly, and slimming the unit down would involve trimming down this sensor array in some manner.

Lenses tends to need to be convex, simply due to the way they work, but Microsoft has developed a method of using flat lenses for its sensors, would could potentially save space and weight on the sensor assembly.

Flat lenses are made possible by using tiny pillars of silicon to bend light on the surface of the lens, instead of relying on the refraction effect of curved glass. Since it uses silicon on a microcopic surface structure, this means it is very easy to integrate into chip designs and allows for very thing, lightweight designs of infra-red light emitters and sensors.

The patent for the technology was filed in April 2016, as spotted by MSPoweruser, but the process for patent applications tends to be somewhat slow. As such, it is difficult to know if or when this technology could make it into the HoloLens, though most analysts are in agreement that such a development is necessary if Microsoft plan to make the dream of lightweight glasses-like augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) into a tangible product.

VRFocus will continue to bring you news on further developments concerning the Microsoft HoloLens