Microsoft’s new patent filing shows that the HoloLens glasses will be used to track small items like car keys, stopping wearers from misplacing them. Speaking in a broader sense, the patent talks about a system that can monitor the status of objects without any instructions from users, keeping tabs on anything that’s important to their lives.
The idea itself is pretty straight forward, HoloLens has outward-facing cameras that can make a holographic image of the room, and then machine vision technology can track specific objects in the room itself. HoloLens could hypothetically spot them through the camera and quietly note their position. When you’re about to leave the house, it could give you the keys’ last known location, even if they’ve since been covered up by a newspaper or slipped under a couch cushion.
Right now, this idea seems very impractical, since you’d need to be wearing bulky smart glasses all day. Moreover, if you drop your keys somewhere without looking at them, the system might not register that they’ve moved. It’s not clear how much it would help if you slipped something in a coat pocket or bag and then carried it around, unless it’s got some very complex multi-location tracking. It’s not hard to slap a Bluetooth tracker on an item if you’re consistently losing it. And by the time we get to a future of 24/7 augmented reality, we may not have keys at all.
The most interesting thing about HoloLens is not really the idea of tracking an object. It’s HoloLens learning what items matter to you and choosing what to follow, before you ever worry about losing something. To be clear, you could designate objects: one example has a traveler telling HoloLens to track their passport while abroad. In other cases, though, it could check to see how often you interact with an object, or when you move it around, and start tracking anything that hits a certain threshold.
Obviously, this patent is still not a reality and like most patents, this one too won’t be used practically. Even if Microsoft could somehow develop this technology, HoloLens currently is extremely limited and bulky and and is very uncomfortable that it won’t be worn casually.