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HoloLens for Research

Academic Research Request for Proposals

Microsoft HoloLensMicrosoft believes that mixed reality can be used to create new experiences that will contribute to advances in productivity, collaboration, and innovation. We engage with researchers across many disciplines to push boundaries in the state of the art at the intersection of software and hardware.

Microsoft HoloLens goes beyond augmented reality and virtual reality by enabling you to interact with three-dimensional holograms blended with your real world. Microsoft HoloLens is more than a simple heads-up display, and its transparency means you never lose sight of the world around you. High-definition holograms integrated with your real world will unlock all-new ways to create, communicate, work, and play.


The primary goal of this request for proposals (RFP) is to better understand the role and possible applications for holographic computing in society. Additional goals are to stimulate and advance academic research in mixed reality and encourage applications of holograms for novel purposes.

Proposals are invited from, but not limited to, the following areas of interest:

  • Data visualization
    • Example: Using mixed reality to make large data sets easier to navigate and understand
  • Evolution of pedagogy in STEM, medical, and design education
    • Example: Using existing 3D assets or new 3D assets for high-value training (e.g., interactive 3D models for medical training)
  • Future of communication and distributed collaboration
    • Examples: Remote training and support, first-responder emergency management, and virtual conferences
  • Interactive art and experimental media
    • Examples: Narrative storytelling, new forms of artistic expression, interactive journalism
  • Psychology-related topics
    • Examples: Human perception and human-computer interaction
  • Solving difficult problems and contributing new insights that are specific to the applicant’s field 

Monetary and hardware awards

  • Microsoft anticipates making approximately five (5) awards consisting of US$100,000 and two Microsoft HoloLens development kits each. All awards are in the form of unrestricted gifts, which are delivered directly to the universities for the purpose of funding the winning proposals.
  • The awards are intended to be used for seed-funding larger initiatives, proofs of concept, or demonstrations of feasibility. It is important to understand that funding is not expected to continue after the first year and that PIs who are granted the Microsoft HoloLens Research Awards should therefore make every effort to use the award as one component of a diverse funding base in a larger or longer-running project. Proposals with a clear plan to secure co-funding are encouraged.


This RFP is not restricted to any one discipline or tailored to any particular methodology. We are especially welcoming of proposals that come from cross-disciplinary teams.

  • To be eligible for this RFP, your institute and proposal must meet the following requirements.
  • Institutions must have access to the knowledge, resources, and skills necessary to carry out the proposed research.
  • Institutions must be either an accredited degree-granting university with a non-profit status or a research institution with non-profit status.
  • Proposals that are incomplete or request funds in excess of the maximum award will be excluded from the selection process.
  • The receiving institution must agree that awards are made as unrestricted gifts, will not be subject to indirect costs or overhead charges, and these may not be included in the budget for the proposed project.
  • Currently, this RFP is available only to residents of the United States.

Submission process

Proposals must be written in English and submitted through the online application tool ( no later than 11:30 P.M. (Pacific Daylight Time) on September 5, 2015.

Microsoft shall have no obligation to maintain the confidentiality of any submitted proposals. Therefore, proposals should not contain information that is confidential, restricted, or sensitive. Researchers submitting proposals recognize and agree that:

Microsoft has access to, may have or have had possession of, and/or may create or has created materials and ideas that may be similar or identical to said material in theme, idea, plot, format, or other respects. Researcher will not be entitled to any compensation because of the use of any such similar or identical material and that their permission is not needed for the use of such similar or identical material.

Microsoft reserves the right to make the winning proposals publicly available, except those portions containing budgetary or personally identifiable information.

The submission will consist of a project proposal from one to three (1–3) pages in length and contain the following information:

Page 1 should contain the following information:

  • Biographical information and contact information: This should include a brief description of any relevant prior research, publications, or other professional experience.
  • Project proposal abstract: The abstract should contain the following:
    • A nontechnical description of the project that states the problem to be studied, and explains the project’s broader significance and importance.
    • A technical description of the project that states the goals and scope of the research, and the methods and approaches to be used.

Pages 2–3: The rest of the proposal should look to include the following:

  • Complete project proposal: The proposal contains details of the proposed project be made available for review by researchers and experts chosen by Microsoft. The project proposal could include:
    • Project description: What set of questions will be addressed? How will they be addressed? How will answering these questions help advance what is known about the potential for mixed reality?
    • Approach: What is the methodological and theoretical approach that the researchers will address? Exactly how will the researchers go about answering the question? Include a description of how the researchers will handle the legal and ethical challenges of doing work in this area.
    • Related research: Briefly summarize related research, including references where appropriate.
    • Researchers’ roles: Describe the role of individual researchers on the project and how their skills and knowledge enable them to address the question proposed.
    • Schedule: What milestones will be used to measure progress of the project during the year and when will they be completed? If the project described is part of a larger ongoing research program, estimate the time for completion of this project only.
    • Use of funds: Provide a budget (in U.S. dollars) describing how the award will be used. The budget should be presented as a table with the total budget request clearly indicated.
    • Other support: Include other contributions to this project (cash, goods, and services), if any, but do not include the use of university facilities that are otherwise provided on an ongoing basis. Note: Authors of winning proposals will be required to submit an original letter on department letterhead certifying the commitment of any additional or matching support described in the proposal.

Selection process and criteria

All proposals received by the submission deadline and in compliance with the eligibility criteria will be reviewed by a panel of experts chosen from Microsoft. Based on evaluations by the review panel, Microsoft will select the worthiest proposals for funding. Microsoft reserves the right to fund winning proposals at an amount greater or lower than the amount requested, up to the stated maximum amount. Note: Due to the volume of submissions, Microsoft cannot provide individual feedback on proposals that are not funded.

All proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Addresses an important research question that, if answered, has the potential to have a significant impact on that challenge.
  • Potential for wide dissemination and use of knowledge, including specific plans for scholarly publications, public presentations, and white papers.
  • Ability to complete the project including adequacy of resources available, reasonableness of timelines, and qualifications of identified contributors.
  • Qualifications of principle investigator including previous history of work in the area, successful completion of previous funded projects, research or teaching awards, and books published.
  • Possible additional information as requested by the review panel, which might be requested via a conference call after the submission date.


  • As a condition of this award:
    • The recipient will be required to sign the Microsoft HoloLens developer agreement program agreement.
    • The PIs agree that Microsoft may use their name and likeness to publicize their proposals (including all proposal content) in connections with the promotion of the research awards in all media now known or later developed.
    • Researchers will be willing to engage with Microsoft about their project experience by providing feedback via monthly calls and visits, and by attending one to two (1–2) workshops in Redmond, Washington, with the development team.
  • The review process is an internal one and no feedback on the reviews will be given to submitters.
  • Funded researchers must seek approval of their institution’s review board for any work that involves human subjects.
  • Microsoft makes no claims on any of the data collected as a part of this research, but at the completion of the project, the funded researchers will be required to produce a white paper that describes what was learned as a result of this project.
  • Microsoft encourages researchers to publish their work in scholarly venues. Funded researchers do not need to seek Microsoft's approval prior to publication, but should share a draft of their articles with Microsoft 60 days prior to publication.

Proposal submission

Awards announced: October 6, 2015


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