Microsoft HoloLens 2 - Featuring custom built AI Coprocessor

James Marshall
July 24, 2017

Microsoft have been hinting for a while that the current version of the HoloLens is only "version 1.0".

Microsoft is designing the silicon itself because it believes that is the only way to unlock future uses and services for both augmented reality and mixed reality.

Neural networks are a major part in how modern artificial intelligence works and provide the basis for the extremely rapid data processing needed for AR, a feature that could be extremely helpful when processing the "real world" data required for true MR applications. But today Microsoft has given us some details of the HPU of their upcoming version of the headset Hololens 2.0. Sadly, the company's initially available HoloLens hardware is priced out of the reach of most consumers, costing $3,000 for the Development Edition release - a price that is being brought down by hardware partners working on third-party lower-specification headsets based on the same Windows Mixed Reality platform.

For those who don't know, an HPU is the HoloLens' multiprocessor and defined as the Holographic Processing Unit.

In a keynote at CVPR 2017, Harry Shum, executive VP of the AI and Research Group at Microsoft, explained that the second version of the HPU will use an AI coprocessor to natively implement deep neural networks.

On display was an "an early spin of the second version of the HPU running live code implementing hand segmentation" with a range of layer types that are fully programmable by Microsoft's HoloLens creators. The newer coprocessor for Hololens will be running continuously using the HoloLens battery.

"This is the kind of thinking you need if you're going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent", Marc Pollefeys, Microsoft's director of science for the HoloLens, wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft's first Judge Dredd-style "mixed reality" headset went on sale in the United Kingdom previous year, with the firm offering a developer-only version for £2,179, and an enterprise-focused model for £4,529.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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