Microsoft Patents the Holodeck

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Microsoft Patents the Holodeck


Microsoft has patented an "immersive display experience" that uses projectors to turn entire rooms into display surfaces.

Deep immersion into a videogame is great, but it can be tricky to achieve when you're sitting on a couch 15 feet away from your television. So Microsoft has an idea: expand videogames beyond the limits of conventional screens "by projecting a peripheral image onto environmental surfaces around the user."

"Interactive media experiences, such as videogames, are commonly delivered by a high quality, high resolution display," the company's patent for an "Immersive Display Experience" states. "Even when focused on the display, the user may perceive architectural and decorative features of the room the display is in via the user's peripheral vision. Such features are typically out of context with respect to the displayed image, muting the entertainment potential of the media experience. Further, because some entertainment experiences engage the user's situation awareness, the ability to perceive motion and identify objects in the peripheral environment may intensify the entertainment experience."

Microsoft's planned system would project images throughout the room, using sensors to detect room size, "environmental surface colors," furniture and other obstacles, and then compensate for them accordingly. To avoid corrupting the experience, players would be shielded from the light cast by the environmental projection unit. A sensor could also be incorporated into the system to track head movements and adjust the images accordingly.

As you might expect, a system like this will take some serious processing power to operate, but Microsoft has that base covered too. "Because a user may be focused and interacting with images displayed on the primary display, in some embodiments, the peripheral image may be displayed at a lower resolution than the primary image without adversely affecting user experience," the patent says. "This may provide an acceptable immersive display environment while reducing computing overhead."

There is, of course, not even a hint as to when this bad boy might be ready for market, but it's safe to say that you probably don't want to hold your breath waiting for it.

Sources: Slashdot [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19568451]


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jbm1986

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May 18, 2012
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[HEADING=1] SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY![/HEADING]

Can't wait to see a live demo of this!
 

NvrPhazed

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Dec 8, 2010
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jbm1986 said:
[HEADING=1] SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY![/HEADING]

Can't wait to see a live demo of this!
I second this I want it now. Even by that sketch picture it looks cool.
 

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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How can you possibly patent something as vague as that? American patents are crazy.
 

Rainboq

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This has the potential to be absolutely amazing, but I'm not entirely sold yet, if I can use my controller and do it, then I'm sold.
 

Quiet Stranger

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This sounds great and all, the whole holodeck thing I'm totally up for but does anyone feel like Microsoft are dicks for doing it? I can just see it causing a LOT of problems for people in the future.
 

Space Jawa

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jbm1986 said:
[HEADING=1] SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY![/HEADING]
I can't help but shake the feeling that this is exactly the idea - that they aren't nearly as close to figuring this out as the patent suggests and they're just filing it so that they can take the money of anyone down the road who actually does figure out the holodeck.

Though maybe I'm just being paranoid based on the title of the article.
 

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Jet packs: check
Holodeck: check
Now where are the hover cars and space colonies?
 

jbm1986

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Space Jawa said:
jbm1986 said:
[HEADING=1] SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY![/HEADING]
I can't help but shake the feeling that this is exactly the idea - that they aren't nearly as close to figuring this out as the patent suggests and they're just filing it so that they can take the money of anyone down the road who actually does figure out the holodeck.

Though maybe I'm just being paranoid based on the title of the article.
Seems simple enough, use the kinect for the motion recognition and have some sort of array of projectors set up around the room.

RIP every breakable object nearby.
 

Vigormortis

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Nov 21, 2007
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Sooooo.....

We can look forward to being totally immersed and surrounded by games like this:


And this:


Oh yeah. TOTALLY excited for this.

------------------------------

I feel about this announcement the way I now feel about Kinect. Completely apathetic about what Microsoft wants to do with it.

Don't get me wrong. It sounds incredibly cool. On paper. But...well...most of us thought the same thing about Kinect. Look how THAT turned out.

Honestly, the only time I've seen the Kinect used in interesting ways is when the modding community hacked it for PCs. So, who knows. Maybe they'll find a really cool way to use this new "holodeck" tech.
 

Entitled

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Aug 27, 2012
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Oh please, VR is just around the corner with Oculus, (as in "several press members and industry insiders have already tried the prototype and were blown away"), and MS is playing around with projecting images over my furniture?
 

Cranyx

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Wait a minute, if it uses a projector to cover the entire room, and you're in the room, then would the lights be shining directly in your eyes?
 

evilneko

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Jun 16, 2011
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I say meh.

Also it's not a holodeck until I can fence with Captain Picard, Commander Riker, and Geordi at the same time.
 

chozo_hybrid

Jund 'Em Out!
Jul 15, 2009
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It has to be able to malfunction and cause historic people to run amok.

Otherwise it's not a real holodeck!
 

Shinsei-J

Prunus Girl is best girl!
Apr 28, 2011
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Captain Kill Joy here!
Saying this seems like a terrible idea in so many ways.
Cap'out!
 

Dangit2019

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I have that feeling that this is going to sit on the shelves for at least a decade before they even think of applying it.
 

Therumancer

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Nov 28, 2007
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Interesting, but honestly I think Microsoft is just investing in the future and laying the seeds of some later patent trolling.

See, the way how the laws work, an IDEA can be copyrighted, if you think of something but can't make, it's considered to be unfair if someone who hadn't thought of it yet, but has the know how, runs out and makes a fortune off of your idea. A sort of formalization between the creative process and the practical aspect of producing things, to ensure that the idea guys aren't pretty much screwed by the engineers and their employers.

A lot of thinkrs tend to come up with things that they feel might be possible at some point, and then get patents put out on them. In many cases they will go out and try and sell the idea ("I think you should make this, I think the engineers working for you could pull it off, but I expect a cut for having thought of it"), in other cases they sit there and wait for technology to move on or someone else to begin development on something similar and then take credit for it... sometimes fairly (you were inspired by my idea), sometimes not.

In Microsoft's case, this seems like a reasonable step between current video gaming/entertainment technology, and some kind of immersive, "true VR". By patenting this, they now have the exclusive right to develop it should the nessicary technologies become availible to enable mass production. If someone else has the same basic idea (or hears about it here first) and manages to beat Microsoft tot he punch of actually producing it, Microsoft owns the rights.

This can get ridiculous at times, but for the most part it works. There have been more than a few times when I've felt that the "insane" person who claims they actually thought of something first before we saw it, but couldn't win against the current business interests, were actually right. I've felt that the system needs to be reformed both to stop copyright trolling on stupid things, but also to make it so a big business can't so easily shut down patent claims with their legal muscle. One example I vaguely remember was some guy from the early 80s who came up with an idea very similar to the current MMO (with illustrations and everything) who shopped the idea around to companies like Atari and others before realizing it just wasn't practical, years later his kids apparently found out he had a patent and that technically companies like Sony (Everquest) and others infringed on it and owed him money (arguably all of it they made) despite his age. It didn't go anywhere, but it was an interesting story since as I remember it, it could actually be proved that he was trying to get things similar to MMOs made decades before the first one actually appeared. It's hard to say how many of the long-running companies he approached with that idea were actually inspired by what he said, even if they decided it wasn't practical to do right then.

At any rate a couple of decades from now I wonder if someone will be dusting off this patent, especially if Microsoft's woes bring it down and it doesn't lead this charge, and claiming rights to an established technology.

Oh and before anyone makes jokes, yes there ARE things you can't patent, and part of the problem can sometimes be thinking up something you want to patent that nobody else hasn't already thought of and registered. Some big companies can literally hold hundreds of thousands or millions of patents and copyrights "just in case" with the people in charge not even knowing what they have. Some companies will buy up patents a person files that seem plausible just so they can claim the idea down the road, or to ensure the competition doesn't get them. Allegedly a lot of fuel saving technologies people filed patents for were bought up by the gas companies, who didn't want those technologies developed, which would cut down on gas sales and their profits, just to make sure noone would develop them.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

I never asked for this
Sep 8, 2011
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I don't think people should be able to patent anything until they develop the damn thing or at least prove that they have a working technology for it.