It has just been revealed that Microsoft is seeking a patent on new eye sensors for their popular HoloLens device. The official listing on this patent was for a capacitive. sensors for determining eye gaze direction."
Executives at Microsoft believe this new gaze tracking technology will have many benefits on how the HoloLens works. Not only will the HoloLens be able to track a person's vision with greater accuracy, Microsoft also believes these sensors will make the product cheaper and more comfortable to wear.
Interestingly, the current design for the HoloLens doesn't have any gaze sensors for the eyes. The current HoloLens relies solely on a sensor that detects which way a person's head is facing.
In a recent statement, Microsoft said that the HoloLens now uses the orientation of a person's head rather than their eyes to compute the gaze vector. Microsoft went on to liken the gaze vector to a laser pointer that shoots outwards from between a user's eyes. This laser helps the glasses better understand both the real world environment and the virtual world.
Most systems designed to track a person's eye gaze use cameras designed to analyze a person's eyes nowadays. The two main factors that kept Microsoft from developing eye camera technology were cost and convenience. Designing cameras on the eye frames is very difficult because they are often complex, cost a great deal to develop, and can be quite obtrusive.
With the release of Microsoft's eye tracking patent, however, new HoloLens designs may feature eye-tracking technology exclusively. Images from the patent show transparent capacitive sensors placed on the HoloLens' glasses. Experts believe these sensors will either be made out of a fine wire mesh or a conductive polymer. These sensors will most likely be able to measure a person's cornea to figure out where a person is gazing.
One interesting feature techies have noted in Microsoft's design schema is that it is set to be very fast with low latency. In layman's terms, this means the sensors will be able to easily detect rapid eye motion.
The idea for the HoloLens actually began with the Kinect, which is a motion sensing add-on for Microsoft's Xbox game system that was released in 2010. Microsoft developers took that technology and brought it to their design of the HoloLens.
Currently Microsoft's HoloLens sells for around £2,375 to developers primarily in the USA and Canada. In late 2016, Microsoft also announced that the HoloLens will soon be available in the U.K., New Zealand, France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia.
HoloLens has been hailed around the world for being the very first self-contained holographic computer. Many developers and big name corporations have already been using the HoloLens to help bring their business strategies into the 21st century. A few of these companies include Lowe's Home Improvement, NASA, Audi, Saab, and Airbus.
Microsoft hopes these new eye-tracking cameras will make future iterations of the HoloLens even more user friendly. No word yet on when this new and improved technology will be released, but many people believe it will be seen in the HoloLens version 2.