A Finnish Connection: The Mysterious Tale of HoloLens

Sean Cameron


One of the biggest business news stories of 2014 was Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division, bringing the Finnish giant’s hardware production dreams to rest. Struggling to make a profit for many years, despite having come from a position of relative strength, Nokia’s board members set the move in motion after years of clinging on with Windows Phone alone.

As might be expected however, there was more to Redmond’s acquisition of Nokia than a simple desire to produce hardware of its own, multi-nationals are far more complex than that. The bread and butter of the technology industry is Research and Development, or to put it more specifically: Patents.


When Microsoft acquired that particular portion of Nokia, it also took on a number of highly talented researchers, along with a number of patents, intending to boost its own portfolio. And perhaps to take the pick of the best was one Pasi Saarikko, Principal HW Engineering Manager at Microsoft’s HoloLens project. A former Principal Scientist at Nokia’s Research Center, Saarikko is an expert in the field of optics, and with his knowledge of Nokia, there can be little doubt he had at least some say in having certain persons join his team.

It is without doubt that, at least with regards to hardware, HoloLens was the big news at the Windows 10 event on January 23rd. Using a form of ‘augmented reality’ to place simulated 3D objects within the user’s line of sight, the device is almost impossibly futuristic, straight from the set of Minority Report. Yet, that such a device should surface less than a year after the closure of Microsoft’s deal with Nokia is unlikely to be a coincidence.


Given the Finnish firm’s undeniable experience with optics, extensive patent portfolio, considerable R&D budget and reported work with 3D interfaces on devices such as the ‘McLaren’, it would indeed make sense if there was a connection. Though there can be no doubt that HoloLens has been in development for rather a while (most likely since the development of the original Kinect).

Whether Nokia had an involvement in any way, official or not, is impossible to know at this point. However, that the device should surface so soon after the closure of the deal between the two multi-nationals is either the result of incredible chance, or a process slowly set in motion some time before. The fact that Nokia has such experience in the field of optics and employed a great number of individuals with highly specific skills in this area is merely icing on the cake.


There can be no doubt that, regardless of the Nokia’s presence or not, the HoloLens would have come about. Microsoft has a wallet fat with both cash and kudos, if it wishes something to be, then it is only a matter of time before it is. The addition of Nokia, with its patents and researchers however, might have advanced the project considerably, though this is merely speculation on the part of this writer.

The effects of the acquisition will be felt by both firms for years to come. In 2015, what other potentially crazy hardware Microsoft may bring to the table suddenly becomes a little clearer, infused with a little Finnish spirit.

Do you believe Nokia influenced the production of the HoloLens in any way? Let us know in the comments below.