Microsoft designed a special processor to handle HoloLens data

Microsoft was still mum on how the augmented reality headset works without a PC connection

How Microsoft's HoloLens might look in action

How Microsoft's HoloLens might look in action

Microsoft shared some additional details about the components inside its augmented reality HoloLens headset during the company's Build conference.

Like a traditional PC, HoloLens contains a CPU and GPU, said Alex Kipman, a technical fellow in Microsoft's operating system group, on Thursday. But the headset also uses a custom built holographic processing unit to handle data coming from the many sensors contained in the device.

The HoloLens includes microphones to capture sound and voice commands and cameras to map the space around a person, Kipman said.

This means the headset will be taking in large amounts of data, such as what a person is looking at and reaching for as well as the environment around them, like the location of a table, he said. HoloLens doesn't immerse a person in a total virtual environment. Instead, when a person looks through the headset's lens, they see their surroundings with holographic images placed in them.

Using a third processor frees up the CPU and GPU to run apps created by developers, Kipman said.

Microsoft didn't share any details on how HoloLens functions without hooking up to a PC or smartphone.

"All of the infrastructure is in the top of the device," Kipman said, adding that HoloLens is "a stand-alone fully untethered holographic computer."

The APIs HoloLens uses to incorporate gesture control and gaze are found on Windows 10 so any program built on Microsoft's universal app platform will run on the headset, he said. And the speech engine used to process voice commands in HoloLens is the same one behind Cortana, Microsoft's voice-controlled digital assistant, he said.

The cameras in HoloLens can be used to capture still images and video. The camera can also be used to take a mixed reality pictures that combines the virtual and real environments, Kipman said. For example, a person wearing HoloLens could take a photo of someone in the real world interacting with a 3D object, he said.

Developers looking for access to HoloLens' sensors are out of luck. They'll only have the ability to access the sensor APIs, Kipman said. Allowing developers to modify the sensors wouldn't create a uniform experience across all HoloLens, he said. If developers created programs to work only on HoloLens with sensors modified in a certain way, the software in the app store wouldn't be consistent, Kipman said.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsofthardware systems

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?