Virtual Reality has unstuck us in space, making forays into different worlds a breeze. It has opened up many possibilities and we are still figuring out ways to overcome its limitations, as well as how to use the technology best. Microsoft, in amid its WMR and HoloLens projects, has leaked a patent that lets users toggle between VR and non-VR world on the fly. The Microsoft Virtual Reality switch patent leaks not long after a major development refocus in the company.
VR systems have done their mightiest to shut the real world while inside VR. It was a praiseworthy effort, one that we only later deemed limiting. The new technological struggle is to reconnect the immersive systems we created with the world left behind – the real one. Succeeding is such endeavor would make the circle complete, pin Virtual Reality to complement reality, not oppose it.
One of nobler attempts came from Microsoft themselves. To eliminate potential dizziness and ease your way back from MR, Samsung equipped its HMD Odyssey + headset with flashlight that does just that. Combined with cameras, WMR headsets also feature quick peeks into real world. However, these are mechanical solution that serve only to announce the later technology, and Microsoft VR switch may just be the solution hinted at. The patent papers show a feature that can adjust opacity and let headset users toggle between realities with relative ease.
Here is how Microsoft describes it: ‘the headset has a housing which partially encloses a display’ reads the patent description. ‘The housing has an opening configured to cover the user’s face. The housing’, the description goes further, ‘has an area between the display and user interface that is configured to change the degree of opacity’. As we can gather, Microsoft VR switch is not a simple on-off solution but rather an intricate interplay of display technology and placement.
What does the interplay amount to though? Again, the ability to toggle Virtual Reality on and off without breaking a sweat or taking off headset is the obvious answer. It could also be that Microsoft is aiming at a device that would combine AR and VR, in which case the Switch will shuffle between those. Come what may, it will mark a definite improvement over the current reality window block.
Putting the patent leak in context, it has far deeper implication as far as tech route is concerned. Let us remind ourselves of the recent Facebook staff reshuffle aimed at a more holistic effort with regards to AR and VR. All guns point at the future where VR, AR MR, XR, and all the rest of them will be integrated into a coherent whole. By the looks of it, different forays into different realities will result in a definitive technology that merges all these experiences into one. Perhaps the time is ripe to count the baby steps towards this new reality future. In this, bigger context, Microsoft VR switch technology gets a nod of approval too. It is nice to see big companies think big.