Microsoft May Be Working On Its Own PlayStation VR Competitor

Microsoft Corporation may have its own virtual reality (VR) headset currently in development to compete with PlayStation VR, according to a recently published patent for a self-calibrating eye-tracking system.

Phil Spencer, Head of Gaming at Microsoft, onstage at Xbox E3 2018 Briefing where Microsoft added five more creative teams to the Microsoft Studios family on Sunday, June 10, 2018 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Microsoft/AP Images)


  • Microsoft Corporation has recently published a patent for an eye-tracking system that can self-calibrate to maintain accuracy over time without requiring recalibration.
  • The system combines information about the player’s eye movements with the device’s camera position for more accurate results.
  • The system uses infrared light and multiple light sources to detect reflections from the eye, generating biological and hardware estimation data that can be used to adjust the eye’s orientation and position to accommodate changes in the device.
  • Although the patent does not specifically mention virtual reality (VR) headsets, it could be applied to smaller devices and potentially virtual reality (VR) headsets.
  • Another patent filed by Microsoft Corporation just days before mentions a “head-mounted display with eye-tracking system,” strengthening the possibility that the company is developing a virtual reality (VR) headset with eye-tracking technology.

Earlier today, we came across a recently published patent titled “ENHANCED EYE TRACKING SYSTEMS UTILIZING JOINT BIOLOGICAL AND HARDWARE ESTIMATIONS,” filed in August 2022 under the name of MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC. The patent, published earlier this week, describes a self-calibrating eye-tracking system that combines information about the player’s eye movements and the device’s camera position to create more accurate eye-tracking results. This technique can adjust for changes in the device’s position or direction and compensate for them without recalibrating the system.

This helps maintain the eye-tracking system’s accuracy over time without sending it back to the factory for recalibration. While the patent does not specifically mention virtual reality (VR) headsets, it describes eye-tracking systems that can be used in various devices, including smaller form factors that may not offer the same support as a larger headset. Therefore, it is possible that the techniques disclosed in the patent could be applied to virtual reality (VR) headsets as well.

Perspective view of a display device having multiple sensors and light sources used for tracking at least one eye of a person. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

“The disclosed techniques provide enhanced eye tracking systems utilizing joint estimation of biological parameters and hardware parameters. By the use of joint estimation of biological parameters, e.g., direction and position of an eye, with concurrent estimation of hardware parameters, e.g., camera position or camera direction, a system can self-calibrate and provide eye tracking estimations that can allow a system to accommodate for deformations and other changes of a device,” reads the abstract for the patent.

“The disclosed techniques include a method to model changes of a device, as well as detect and compensate for them while the eye-tracking device is in normal use, thereby preserving the performance of the system without requiring a factory-calibration procedure to be repeated.”

Interestingly, another patent, published just a few days before the one in question, also mentions a “head-mounted display with eye-tracking system.” This strengthens the possibility that Microsoft Corporation may be developing a virtual reality (VR) headset that incorporates the eye-tracking system described in the patent.

The previous patent describes a headset with a transparent cover, a display screen, and a light source that emits light to track the player’s eye movements. The headset also has specially curved areas to direct the eye-tracking light towards the player’s eye and a camera that can detect the reflected eye-tracking light.

Taken together, these patents provide strong indications that Microsoft Corporation may be working on a virtual reality (VR) headset that includes an eye-tracking system.

One example of a head-mounted display (HMD) device. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

According to the patent’s claims, the system uses a device with a camera directed towards the eye. The method involves projecting infrared light from multiple light sources towards the eye and detecting reflections of the infrared light from the eye to identify multiple glints.

By analysing image data generated by the camera, the position of the pupil and the glints can be determined, and biological estimation data and hardware estimation data can be generated. The biological estimation data defines biological parameters indicating the orientation and position of the eye, while the hardware estimation data defines one or more hardware parameters of the camera.

By combining the biological and hardware estimation data, the orientation and position of the eye can be adjusted to accommodate deformations or other physical changes in the device.

Aspects of an iterative process for analyzing measured values and predicted values for pupil and glint positions. | Source: PATENTSCOPE

Additionally, the joint estimation of hardware and biological parameters can be used to reduce the difference between a predicted value of the pupil and glint positions based on a model and a measured value of the pupil and glint positions derived from the image data. The adjustment to the orientation and position of the eye is determined based on the difference between the predicted value and the measured value.

Furthermore, using sensors, the system can detect certain conditions, such as excessive device acceleration, temperature, or force. If these conditions are detected, the camera’s hardware parameters will be adjusted to determine the eye’s orientation and position. Essentially, this safety feature ensures the eye-tracking method’s accuracy even under challenging environmental conditions.

The system can also analyse individual eye images to generate an updated model that defines an updated predicted position of the ocular features based on the measured and predicted positions, which is where the self-calibration feature comes in.

If the difference between the updated predicted position and the measured position is less than a predetermined threshold, the method will determine the adjustment to the orientation and position of the eye based on the updated predicted position of the ocular features.

Although recent patents suggest that Microsoft Corporation might be developing its own virtual reality (VR) headset, it is important to remember that these are only patents, and there is no guarantee that they will actually be put into action. It is important to mention that the patent in question may not be related to virtual reality (VR) since Microsoft has also previously released an augmented reality (AR) headset, Microsoft HoloLens, specifically intended for use in the business industry.

Therefore, it is possible that this patent could pertain to augmented reality (AR) technology. However, with the launch of PlayStation VR2, it seems only a matter of time before Microsoft Corporation releases its own version of virtual reality (VR) headsets to compete with Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Only time will tell if the company will implement this patent in its current or upcoming video game technologies, but the concept behind the patent introduces some innovative features into current virtual reality (VR) technologies that will certainly stir up competition in the video game industry.

What do you think about this? Do tell us your opinions in the comments below!

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