3D Teleconference 'Beams' Callers In
A research team from Canada created a system that lets people teleconference in as a 3D video projected onto a white cylinder.
CREDIT: Human Media Lab
The perfect teleconference should feel as if the callers are right there in the room, right? Computer scientists from three universities in Canada have created what's probably the closest we can get to beaming someone into a teleconference. Using a mix of currently available technologies, the scientists created a system that shows life-size, 3D, real-time video of a caller. The video is beamed onto a large white column. The researchers will present their eerily-named TeleHuman system May 8 at the Association for Computing Machinery's human-computer interaction conference.
"Why Skype when you can talk to a life-size 3D holographic image of another person?" Roel Vertegaal, a computer scientist at Queen's University in Ontario who led the research, said in a statement.
Ten Microsoft Kinect sensors capture video of the caller, which transmits over a high-speed local network connection. (In the future, the researchers will work on getting the images to transmit over an Internet connection most people would have, they wrote in their paper). The recipient sees the caller's image projected onto a six-foot, seven-inch (200-centimeter) acrylic column.
Six more Kinect sensors detect where the recipient is as she walks around the column, so the system will know what angle of the caller it should show. If the recipient wears 3D shutter glasses, she'll get the illusion of a 3D image.
The result looks not so much like a Star Trek holodeck, but more like the caller is stuck inside the white cylinder – like Meg's father in A Wrinkle in Time or cryogenically frozen people in many, many sci-fi movies and shows.
The researchers also created the BodiPod application with the same cylinder setup. The BodiPod shows a full-scale anatomical model that users can examine from any angle. To see the different systems of the body, such as the skeletal or digestive systems, users drag their hands through the air to peel layers off the model. To zoom in on one part, such as the heart, users point at the part and say, "focus" or "zoom." "Show labels" brings up taxonomy labels.
Besides interminable business meetings, people might appreciate a 3D teleconference for sports instruction, such as yoga classes; for doctors to view and examine patients remotely and for immersive video games, the researchers wrote.
Watch the TeleHuman at work: