Microsoft's Patent for Magic Augmented Reality Wands Has Been Revealed

Thursday, 24 August 2017 - 10:52AM
Technology
Gadgets
Virtual Reality
Thursday, 24 August 2017 - 10:52AM
Microsoft's Patent for Magic Augmented Reality Wands Has Been Revealed
Image credit: Microsoft
At present, virtual reality technology is not quite where it needs to be. There are a lot of plans in motion to try and overcome its nausea and disorientation effects, the most intriguing of which center around Microsoft's HoloLens, a kind of hybrid that's halfway between augmented reality and a full-blown virtual reality experience. By wearing the HoloLens glasses, users can see the normal world around them, with additional data and information layered over the top in a futuristic HUD.

The challenge with this is motion control inputs, and it seems that one solution Microsoft is working on involves a long, thin stick that can be used to interact with the virtual display as it appears through the glasse. New information on a patent filed by Microsoft, as well as a view of the device in a corporate video, suggests that the company is expecting this magic wand-like motion controller to essentially work like a stylus in AR.




For anyone who's been following Nintendo for the past 10 years, it's hard not to draw parallels between this input device and the Wii's motion controller. Microsoft's version is longer and thinner, but with a promo video showing it off as a gaming controller, there's no denying that Microsoft is moving in the same direction. You can see the 'wands' at 0:57 in the video below:



It's a little unexpected to see Microsoft heading back to physical devices for motion controls when the homegrown Kinect offers a more hands-free solution. Perhaps there's something in the HoloLens' need for portability that makes the wand a better choice, or maybe this is designed primarily for times when pinpoint accuracy is needed to provide effective inputs (such as artistic design work).

Either way, what matters here is that Microsoft is making progress with a version of VR that will be useful not just for gaming, but for all aspects of life—it's essentially what the Google Glass was intended to be, and it makes sense that, having learned from the failure of a glorified POV camera, Microsoft are working hard to find a more appropriate use for the HoloLens. Honestly, we're all aware of the end goal here—Microsoft is planning on making Iron Man's HUD a reality.



Sure, the suit of armor is cool, but the really revolutionary stuff in this movie is the holographic UI and the HUD that can give Tony Stark the power to Google (or, in the case of the HoloLens, Bing) shawarma restaurants while he's got his hands full.
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