Microsoft is being sued by a light switch company who claims to have invented the touch-less virtual interactions Microsoft uses with the HoloLens Mixed Reality headset.
Connecticut-based HoloTouch makes a holographic light switch that offers touchless controls that float in thin air. Users simply “touch” a holographic image projected in front of you to control virtual switches in difficult environments, meaning the switch never gets dirty, wet or breaks. Their light switches were installed at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, where they prevent cross-contamination.
The company alleges Microsoft’s HoloLens infringes patents issued to them in 2002 and 2004 for their touchless, holographic human-machine interface technology. The complaint also alleges Microsoft willfully infringed the patent and cited HoloTouch’s patents as prior art in their own patents.
HoloTouch’s patent ‘238 details a “means by which an operator may control one or more devices without touching a solid control object or surface while still interacting with familiar controls that are visually perceived, such as a keyboard.” Patent ‘245 describes a holographic human-machine interface and “the reduction of the power consumption, size and weight of conventional holographic HMI“, which appears to be a head-mounted display.
HoloTouch says they approached Microsoft with the idea in 2006 but did not get any interest then. Microsoft did, however, cite HoloTouch as prior art in 2013. They approached Microsoft for a license in 2015 and 2016, but no deal was reached.
HoloTouch says they will vigorously pursue not just Microsoft but other companies which offer touch-less holographic interaction, starting with their suite in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.