Here’s how Microsoft HoloLens achieves its amazing optics

Kit McDonald

We’ve all been curious to see more details on the hardware of HoloLens. Beyond the multitude of demos where we got to experience the augmented reality first hand, many enthusiasts were still perplexed on the full technology that made up Microsoft’s next big thing. Thankfully, we weren’t alone in these curiosities. TomsHardware was able to attend an event over the weekend that allowed them a good hard look at what makes the HoloLens work the way it does.

According to the article, the HoloLens has two small 16:9 light engine projectors with tiny liquid crystal on silicon (LQoD) displays. The projectors display the images through the ‘combiner’ and create a merge of the reality and virtual.

Seems simple enough, right? Not at all. From there, the event speaker explained the shape of the prism can completely chance the way your eyes views the virtual objects through reality. Microsoft uses a surface coating with a thing called “defraction gratings” that keep the objects from swimming around and causing motion sickness for the user.

Head tracking, eye tracking, and depth sensing are also a major feature of the HoloLens that makes engineers curious. Without the proper speed or sensitivity, the headset could become more of a hassle than a useful tool. Toms Hardware reports that the sensor bar for the HoloLens is more than fully equipped for the task.

The sensor bar on the HoloLens comprises four “environment understanding cameras,” two on each side; a depth camera; an ambient light sensor; and a 2MP photo/HD video camera. Some of these are off-the-shelf parts, whereas Microsoft custom-built others.

Image Credit: Toms Hardware
Image Credit: Toms Hardware

More details about the system components were also released at the event:

  • 64 GB eMMC SSD
  • Cherry Trail SoC
  • HPU 1.0
  • x86 architecture
  • Windows 10 OS

Beyond that, Toms Hardware noted some interesting tidbits that they gleamed from the presentation such as the possible use of multiple batteries, four microphones, and an absence of fans or heatsinks.

Their full breakdown of what they call the ‘nitty gritty details’ can be found fully on their site.