Microsoft is expected to unveil the successor to the HoloLens headset at Mobile World Congress this year, and Alex Kipman has even teased the announcement on his own YouTube channel with a rather cryptic video. Now, a couple of patents shed light on some of the improvements the company may have in store for the second generation of the HoloLens.
A couple of patents spotted by Windows Latest show that Microsoft is trying to improve the functionality of the device without adding too much bulk. The patents refer to two different technologies - one is for eye tracking and the other is for a wider field of view - but the general purpose seems to be the same, and that's reducing the size of devices while enabling these additional capabilities.
Both patents state that conventional solutions for implementing eye tracking in headsets, as well as those that provide wider fields of view, tend to add a lot of bulk or complexity to the designs.
For eye tracking, Microsoft's solution involves using an IR light source and a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) scanning mirror to direct the IR light along its path, as well as a sensor for detecting the light reflected off the eye. As for improving the field of view, the Redmond company suggests using a series of "angularly multiplexed holographic gratings" to generate the images, instead of switchable Bragg gratings which would add to the bulk of the display.
The HoloLens 2 is expected to run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 chipset, which would make it a truly mobile device that's always connected. Because of that, it would make sense that Microsoft wants to make the headset lighter, as it would make it more suitable for carrying around and using for extended periods. Previous rumors suggesting that the device will be made out of carbon fiber also corroborate this idea. With MWC 2019 under two weeks away, we won't have long to wait to find out just what Microsoft has in store for us.
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