Microsoft Reportedly Developing HoloLens 3, Patent Reveals

A new Microsoft patent could be our first glimpse at a new HoloLens device after years of relative quiet from the division. 

HoloLens is Microsoft’s mixed-reality solution, using a custom version of Windows to overlay hologrammatic apps in a real-world space. It’s unique among Microsoft’s competitors, most of whom use full-immersion displays that either completely take you out of the entire real world or use mounted cameras to feed the real world into the mix after the fact.

It’s that uncanny latency between the virtual world and the real world that often induces motion sickness, so Microsoft’s novel solution of prismatic holograms is one of the few platforms that can solve that to some degree, although the firm has yet to really make HoloLens available to the masses at scale. 

High-end technical projects that could benefit from real-time manipulation of 3D objects are where HoloLens is now seeing the most use, along with some military uses. Although early versions of Microsoft’s HoloLens were apparently unpopular with soldiers, the company still has a multi-billion dollar deal with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Market Competition

Many have questioned Microsoft’s commitment to the mixed reality and “metaverse” markets in light of ongoing efforts by Apple and Meta. The aforementioned patent drawings depict a new HoloLens gadget with a modular design.

According to the patent’s description, one limitation of the present HoloLens model is that it cannot be customized for individual users’ settings. In fact, the HoloLens 2 that is now available to the public looks considerably different from the helmet-style version being tested in infantry combat scenarios. One promising approach would be creating a modular headset design in which the prismatic displays may be interchanged between different head straps.

Microsoft HoloLens Patent | Microsoft Through WIPO

“The modular sensor and display module may include a standard interface for attachment to various fit systems, including, for example, headband, VR headset, glasses temples, helmet, and the like. In some embodiments, a further module, such as a rear-attachment module, may be provided that can provide auxiliary compute, storage, and power resources for the modular sensor and display module.”

Microsoft’s vision for the future of the HoloLens includes a design in which the battery and processing units found in the current iteration’s headband are unnecessary. The lenses are removed from the headband and placed in a regular glasses frame.

The fundamental HoloLens experience may become more accessible to the general public if the computing overhead can be reduced. Despite rumours that HoloLens 3 may have been scrapped altogether, Microsoft insisted late last year that the next version of the device must feature “meaningful” improvements.

Microsoft’s Virtual Keyboard Patent

Microsoft has also recently patented ideas for a virtual keyboard accessory that can be used with the HoloLens and other augmented reality headsets. The invention described in the patent involves employing holographic windows in conjunction with a virtual keyboard that may be placed on a table.

Microsoft’s mixed reality and so-called “metaverse” efforts have been hit hard by layoffs over the past year, with products like AltspaceVR being discontinued soon after being acquired. Microsoft’s “Microsoft Mesh” platform integrates Microsoft Teams and other 365 services in virtual mixed-reality settings, and the company claims this is part of its ongoing pursuit of the metaverse. Microsoft is also developing improved versions of HoloLens for the military to fulfil its contracts with the Department of Defence. This was done because initial versions of the product caused motion sickness and overall inoperability issues, which led to complaints from the armed forces.

Microsoft introduced its HoloLens mixed reality platform years before Apple, Meta, and other competitors, but the company has struggled to make the technology accessible to the general public or practical for most professional applications. People have been reluctant to buy Apple’s Vision Pro headset because of its exorbitant $3,500 price tag and the fact that it doesn’t significantly improve upon what HoloLens can already perform. There were suspicions that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, had discontinued its own Quest “Pro” line in an effort to cut costs, but Facebook’s creators later disputed the claims.

It’s possible that these are only prototypes, as is common with patents. The joy is in the imagining, though, right?


Farhan Ali

Farhan is a passionate writer with an undying love for games, PC hardware, and technology. With nearly 5 years of experience in blogging and over 14 years of experience in gaming, this is what he loves and does best.