What you need to know
A recent Microsoft patent describes AI-assisted wearables, including a backpack.
The patent illustrates how a backpack with sensors could relay information from a users surrounding to an artificial intelligence engine to provide assistance to a person.
As is the case with many patents, Microsoft's AI wearable may never see the light of day.
Microsoft has big plans for AI. The tech giant is looking to integrate artificial intelligence with all of its services, but could the company also have plans to create a new product category? That could be the case based on a Microsoft patent from earlier this year for an "artificial intelligence assisted wearable."
The patent, which was filed May 2, 2023 and published on August 24, 2023, is for AI-assisted wearables in general, but it focuses heavily on the concept of an AI backpack. The device would use sensors to scan an area and artificial intelligence to provide responses to a user based on what was around that individual.
"The description relates to artificial intelligence assisted wearables, such as backpacks. An example backpack may include sensors, such as a microphone and a camera. The backpack may receive a contextual voice command from a user. The contextual voice command may include a non-explicit reference to an object in an environment. The backpack may use the sensors to sense the environment, use an artificial intelligence engine to identify the object in the environment, and use a digital assistant to perform a contextual task in response to the contextual voice command. The contextual task may relate to the object in the environment. The backpack may output a response to the contextual voice command to the user."
Patent writing is very descriptive and easy to gloss over. A specific example shared by Microsoft makes the potential device easier to grasp. Microsoft illustrates a skier wearing an AI backpack and asking if they could go down a certain path. The backpack then uses its sensors to relay information to AI, which then informs the skier of which path to follow.
Will Microsoft actually make an AI backpack?
It's important to note that many patents never see the light of day. Microsoft is a massive company that does research and development across a broad range of categories. Microsoft may take ideas from the AI backpack and implement them into other devices. The company could also, of course, not use any of the concepts in the patent at all.
I could see Microsoft implementing the ideas presented in this patent into IVAS, which is its augmented reality helmet for the military. There could also be industrial applications for AI assistance based on real-world surroundings. I don't foresee a consumer facing device that scans your environment and uses AI to provide guidance and feedback, but you never know.