HoloLens: Microsoft offers researchers $500K to take its AR gear to the next level

HoloLens has been impressing a lot of folks since Microsoft unveiled the hologram-based augmented reality device earlier this year, but the tech is so new that many, including those that created the kit, are still wondering about its potential.

In an effort to get clever minds focusing on the matter, the computer giant is launching a grant scheme for researchers to help them "create new experiences that will contribute to advances in productivity, collaboration, and innovation."

Interested parties have until September 5 to get their proposals in, with Microsoft hoping to hand out five awards in total. Each successful applicant will receive cash to the tune of $100,000 to help them develop the project, plus two HoloLens development kits.

HoloLens presents wearers with HD holograms that integrate with the real world, offering technology that Microsoft expects will ultimately bring "new ways to create, communicate, work, and play."

The Redmond-based company is hoping its grant scheme will help give it a broader understanding of how HoloLens might be used for holographic computing in society, and also wants it to encourage further academic research in "mixed reality."

Outlining the initiative in a blog post, Microsoft's Jeannette Wing said the company's new technology "teems with opportunity," and hopes the scheme will help researchers "envision novel ways of using HoloLens -- from interactively teaching students, to creating mixed-reality art installations, to manipulating holographic data to reveal new relationshipsto who knows what."

The company clearly doesn't want to be wasting time sifting through fanciful proposals that have no hope of going anywhere, insisting in its guidelines that institutions applying for the grant "must have access to the knowledge, resources, and skills necessary to carry out the proposed research," adding that incomplete applications or proposals that clearly require funds north of $100,000 will be discarded.

Still, it's a fantastic opportunity for those that do have the interest and ideas to take a closer look at HoloLens, and should help Microsoft get a clearer view of where it can go with its exciting technology.