Microsoft’s second-generation HoloLens will include a dedicated AI coprocessor

Microsoft has revealed that it is preparing to equip the second version of its HoloLens VR headset with its own AI processing capabilities to enable more features and services.

The firm said that it is customizing the current processor within the headset with an AI coprocessor that will allow HoloLens to analyze data without needing to use the cloud. That means faster processing times, and more mobility for the device since it won’t always need to be online.

Microsoft is designing the silicon itself because it believes that is the only way to unlock future uses and services for both augmented reality and mixed reality. Speaking at Microsoft’s Build event in May, CEO Satya Nadella gave a number of examples for future AI uses which include industrial working scenarios. Faster processing and greater mobility, just two benefits of a custom AI chip, could be critical factors in those scenarios.

“This is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier,” Microsoft said of the chipset plans.

Microsoft isn’t the only one creating its own chips. Google built its own AI processor to power bots while Apple is said to be secretly developing a dedicated chip for the iPhone. The other approach to unlocking future potential is to create lightweight neural networks which remove the strain from device processors as Google and Facebook are doing.