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Microsoft headset patent puts a new spin on mixed reality

A holodeck on your head?

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This image from Microsoft's patent application shows how the headset's screens could rotate, orbit your head or move back and forth.

USPTO/Microsoft

A Microsoft patent application published Thursday (and initially filed in 2017) shows a freaky-looking reinterpretation of a mixed-reality head-mounted display. Rather than using fixed screens in front of your eyes, which can limit the field of view, the screens could rotate, orbit your head or move back and forth to simulate a 360-degree field of view in any direction without adding weight or heat to the HMD.

Patently Mobile picked up on the patent, which offers a way to design a smaller, lighter headset by moving the light emitters, which it says has the potential to deliver a "practically unlimited field of view." Given that its just-announced HoloLens 2 feels like "practical magic," this concept sounds like practical science fiction.

While VR and MR sales aren't going gangbusters for consumers -- they're plugging along, with Oculus having just announced the Rift S and the Quest -- they're gaining popularity for some commercial applications and the enterprise models are getting refreshed regularly. HP just announced its Reverb (which does have a consumer sibling) and HTC its Vive Focus Plus at the end of 2018.