Microsoft today announced a request for proposals for academic research on possible applications of “holographic computing” — the sort of augmented reality that Microsoft’s HoloLens headset can offer.

Microsoft has come up with a few potential areas of exploration, like data visualization, interactive art, human-computer interaction, and psychology. But the company wants help from academics, and to that end it will give out $100,000 and two HoloLens development kits for the five best proposals from U.S. researchers.

“We expect that researchers will envision novel ways of using HoloLens—from interactively teaching students, to creating mixed-reality art installations, to manipulating holographic data to reveal new relationships … to who knows what,” Microsoft Research corporate vice president Jeannette Wing wrote in a blog post today.

This is an interesting but not especially surprising move for Microsoft to make. In the past several months, Microsoft has shown how people can play games, design three-dimensional objects, explore Mars and even make interactive Skype calls using HoloLens, but the gadget doesn’t really have a long list of use cases other than those. So Microsoft is looking to academia for ideas, while virtual-reality headsets like Facebook’s Oculus get closer to production.

Submissions are due to Microsoft by 11:30 p.m. Pacific on Sept. 5, according to a website with more detail on the request for proposals.


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