Microsoft is adding an artificial intelligence chip to HoloLens

Microsoft Corp.’s HoloLens is set to become a lot smarter. Marc Pollefeys, the Director of Science at the company’s mixed reality group, on Sunday revealed that the next iteration of the headset will pack a co-processor for running artificial intelligence software. The chip is based on a custom design just like the camera that HoloLens uses to track hand gestures and several other components. Its purpose is to let the system harness AI for tasks that are currently handled less efficiently because of hardware limitations. The first constraint is latency. Many operations must be performed near instantaneously to produce a smooth user experience, which rules out the possibility of relegating them to a remote data center thanks to the inevitable networking delays. That leaves local execution as the only option for AI models. But the HoloLens’ so-called Holographic Processing Unit was not built with such workloads in mind, which opens the door to performance issues. The new chip is intended to eliminate this tradeoff. It will take over the heavy lifting involved in running a neural network to free up computational resources for other processes. Moreover, Microsoft’s Pollefeys said, the processor should enable the HoloLens to operate longer between charges when performing…

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