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Microsoft patents augmented reality tech to help us keep track of almost anything

Augmented reality systems are tasked not only with projecting their own virtual information, but also with being aware of the physical space in which they’re functioning. In the real world, that physical space is unlikely to be entirely static, but rather will include both animate and inanimate objects that might not remain in the same place.

The fact that objects might be moved and thus might need to be tracked requires additional capabilities on the part of the AR system — and preferably that process of tracking would be automatic. All of this becomes even more important and complicated when our AR systems aren’t limited to just one physical space but rather are free to follow us wherever we might go. That’s precisely the problem Microsoft is working to solve in a recent patent application, as MSPU reports.

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According to patent application 20160373570, Microsoft is working on technology to identify inanimate objects and allow them to be selected as tracked objects. The system would then keep its eye on that object and react when it’s moved, as well as track objects that leave the field of view and then return in some other location or at a different time.

Microsoft provides some real-world examples of where this capability would be valuable: “The tracking of the location or other state of objects may occupy a significant amount of effort in everyday life. Further, much time may be spent in trying to locate misplaced objects. For example, searching for misplaced car keys, wallets, mobile devices, and the like may cause people to lose productive time. Likewise, forgetting that the milk carton in the home refrigerator is almost empty may lead to an extra trip to the store that could have been avoided had the shopper remembered the state of the milk carton. In some instances, such objects may be moved, emptied, etc., by a person other than the owner, thereby complicating the task of tracking.”

The patent outlines a slew of scenarios where such object-tracking intelligence would be valuable. And the patent accounts for the connected state of our world — it’s not just our own point of view that can provide information on that status of a tracked object, but also that of other people and systems that might catch sight of the object. Thus, Microsoft is also considering the social aspects of tracked objects, where we might be able to share data on objects of importance with other people.

In other words, the patent is aimed at helping us mere humans keep up with things that that we have a hard time keeping up with by ourselves. As such systems become more integrated in our lives, the applications are numerous, and the ability to tell the system what’s important to us and then let the system worry about its status and location would certainly remove some serious complication from our lives.