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Major Takeaways:

  • Microsoft is turning to academia, via grants, to help researches show how the HoloLens can be used for business-related applications
  • Grants to be viewed as “seed funding for long projects”
  • It hopes to fund projects that use HoloLens as a business analytics tool, making large amounts of data easier to analyze and use
  • Other use-cases it hopes to fund research for include useful applications for medical training, design education, interactive journalism, psychology applications, workplace communication, and more immersive virtual conferences
  • “Business cases will drive the growth of HoloLens” – Digi-Capital Managing Director, Tim Merel

From the Fortune article:

The software giant is turning to academia to help research how its augmented reality device can be used for business-related applications.

Microsoft has big plans in store for its upcoming augmented reality device HoloLens that go beyond video games and Minecraft.

The software giant wants HoloLens to be more than an entertainment device, and it’s turning to academia to help researchers show how the device can be used for business-related applications, Microsoft detailed on Monday.

Microsoft will hand out $100,000, along with two HoloLens devices, to five university research teams that meet the company’s requirements for coming up with innovative ways to use “holographic computing” in society, the company explained in a blog post. When Microsoft talks about “holographic computing,” it’s typically talking about its HoloLens device that basically allows people to interact and manipulate three-dimensional holograms that blend in with surroundings in the real world.

HoloLens has generated a lot of hype for Microsoft and company CEO Satya Nadella has strongly backed the company’s investment in the technology. In May, Nadella told The New York Times that HoloLens was one of the reasons Microsoft bought Mojang, the parent company of the hit virtual world-building game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.

However, the overall augmented reality market encompasses more than just gaming, as Digi-Capital managing director Tim Merel explained to Fortune in June. Merel said at the time that his tech advisory firm doesn’t expect video games to be the “primary driver for HoloLens” as the augmented reality market will reach $120 billion by 2020. Instead, he sees business cases driving the growth of HoloLens.

Microsoft is looking to fund projects that use HoloLens as a business analytics tool, making large amounts of data easier to analyze and use. It’s also interested in research teams that can create useful applications for medical training, design education, interactive journalism, psychology applications, and workplace communication.

The company also wants researchers who are working on ways for HoloLens to create more immersive virtual conferences. If you find the process of watching a conference webcast on your computer tedious, having a conference speaker beamed onto your desk may be more enthralling.

Interested researchers should consider the awards as seed funding for long projects, and Microsoft said research teams should not expect the company to continue funding the projects as they mature. Non-profit research groups are also welcome to apply to the grants.