Two new patents from Microsoft show research centered on creating a way to change the color of real-world objects in augmented reality and place virtual “anchor” objects you can share with presumably other users of its HoloLens mixed reality headset.
The first aforementioned patent, “Color Fill In An Augmented Reality Environment,” details how wearers of a head-mounted display could holographically change the colors of objects in their vicinity — such as furniture — to customize their appearance in AR.
According to the patent description:
“The method may include capturing an image of a three-dimensional environment external to the head-mounted computing device, the captured image including a field of view of a user through a see-through display of the head-mounted computing device, and identifying a surface within the captured image that is eligible for color fill operation, based on similarities in color parameters of contiguous pixels in the captured image. The method further may include receiving a color fill request via user input at the head-mounted computing device, the request being for a predetermined color and performing a color fill operation on the identified surface in response to receiving the color fill request by (a) generating a fill hologram having the predetermined color and a shape that conforms to the shape of the identified surface, (b) displaying the fill hologram in a world-locked manner so as to overlay the identified surface as viewed through the see-through holographic display of the head-mounted display device.”
The other patent, “Virtual Place-Located Anchor,” aims to solve the problem of creating virtual objects that can be shared with other users. These objects are described as “world-locked” to specific locations and can remain private to the creator unless they wish to share them.
According to the patent description:
“A computing device and method are provided for generating a virtual place-located anchor at which holograms may be viewed. The computing device may comprise an anchor program executed by a processor of the computing device, wherein the anchor program is configured to, in a creating phase: receive an instruction to generate a virtual place-located anchor at a virtual location that is world-locked; receive a plurality of data items from a target data source at which a first user has an account; link a subset of the plurality of data items to the virtual place-located anchor; and receive a permission via user input from the first user, the permission specifying a condition under which a second user is authorized to view one or more holograms of the subset of data items.
The anchor program also may be configured to, in a viewing phase: transmit first display data to a first display device comprising an at least partially see-through display configured to visually augment a view of a real world three dimensional environment through the display, the first display data causing the first display device to display the one or more holograms of the subset of data items to the first user at the virtual place-located anchor at the virtual location; determine if the condition is satisfied; and if the condition is satisfied, transmit second display data to cause a second display device to display the one or more holograms of the subset of data items to the second user at the virtual place-located anchor at the virtual location.”
It’s important to note Microsoft files many patents — often multiple a day — on its AR and virtual reality research, and, usually, most of the technologies will never reach consumers.
At the same time, both of these concepts make a lot of sense as something we will see in future Microsoft HoloLens tech.