Microsoft recently revealed that the next version of its HoloLens headset will pack its own dedicated AI chip. However, it sounds like the company may have bigger plans for its custom chipset, including an eventual expansion to other devices.
In an interview with CNBC, Panos Panay, Microsoft's corporate vice president of devices, confirmed that the company is still hard at work on the chipset for HoloLens. When pressed on whether he expects the chipset to eventually spread across Microsoft's device portfolio, Panay answered in the affirmative. Expanding further, Panay said its AI chip could also be licensed out to partners.
"I think one of the most important things that we do in Surface and in our chip development is... the opportunity to make sure we get the technology created within Surface and then proliferate it with our partners and give everybody the opportunity to use it," said Panay.
Microsoft explained the goal of an AI chip in an eventual HoloLens 2 will be to add dedicated horsepower for complex tasks like image and voice recognition. That has the potential to open up HoloLens to some unique capabilities and faster processing without having to send data off to the cloud to be processed.
Following HoloLens, we could eventually see these capabilities added to other hardware, including PCs built by Microsoft and partners like Dell and HP. It's also interesting that HoloLens is operating as a sort of testing ground for this particular venture. It will be interesting to see what other types of features might eventually spread from HoloLens to other parts of Microsoft's hardware lineup.