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The next version of HoloLens will include built-in artificial intelligence

HPU 2.0
Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality system hasn’t quite made its way to the mainstream market yet, but the company is already planning its successor. And Microsoft will be adding some artificial intelligence (AI) to the next version, to make it even better at merging real and simulated realities.

The information comes from the Microsoft Research team, via a video that was taken at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2017 event in Hawaii. The video shows off Microsoft’s presentation of a new Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) that incorporates some advanced speech and image processing capabilities.

Specifically, HPU 2.0 will add in a dedicated AI coprocessor that will help the next HoloLens version make better sense of what a user is looking at and listening to while using the device. By incorporating the new AI chip on the HoloLens itself, the latency of sending data to the cloud for processing can be avoided and the resulting experience significantly enhanced. The video shows off the new system’s real-time ability to recognize each individual hand segment in action.

As the Microsoft Research Blog wrote:

“The AI coprocessor is designed to work in the next version of HoloLens, running continuously, off the HoloLens battery. This is just one example of the new capabilities we are developing for HoloLens, and is the kind of thing you can do when you have the willingness and capacity to invest for the long term, as Microsoft has done throughout its history. And this is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier.”

There’s no additional information on when the next HoloLens will be released or what it will be called. Today, HoloLens is primarily a device aimed at larger organizations for real-world applications and at developers for pushing mixed reality into more mainstream applications. It remains far too expensive for consumer applications.

Nevertheless, it’s obvious that Microsoft wants the next version of HoloLens to be even smarter. It might not bring human-level intelligence or consciousness to the market, but at least HoloLens will be able to help users more easily comprehend the world around them.

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