Introducing you to Holoportation

If you’re a fan of Star Wars you may be familiar with their knack of communicating with people via holograms. It doesn’t matter that Master Yoda is across the other side of the Galaxy, Obi Wan can still chat with him as if he’s right there in the room. Well, guess what – it’s actually here (more or less) and it looks as if it’s going to be every bit as awesome as it sounds.

The latest piece of technological wizardry to come out of Microsoft Research’s 3D Interaction lab is something they like to call ‘holoportation’. It’s a 3D hologram of someone who could be a world away, but can interact with you as if he or she is right there in front of you.

It’s all made possible thanks to their own Hololens technology – the company’s brand new augmented reality (AR) technology. It uses a special camera rig which lets you see and hear in real time with a hologram or what they call remote participant in 3D. It really is as if they are right there in the room with you.

Of course it’s not an exact replication. You won’t be able to smell or touch a person and because, under current Hololens technology, the hologram appears in the middle of your field of view it might seem as if they are floating in the air or standing in the middle of a sofa.

Microsoft is hazy on some of the more salient details. They’ve not been all that forthcoming about exactly what the camera rig requires, but it can capture a person as they move around an environment. This allows the user to see a real time capture of that person as they seemingly move around their own environment.

There is a huge amount of additional technology required so it’s obviously some way off being applicable in the commercial world. The development kit on its own costs more than $3,000, but it’s still pretty impressive nevertheless. It’s intended to give us a glimpse of how communication could evolve from a 2D video such as the kind we would see with video calls such as Facetime.

The technology has been wowing people who use it so far. Alex Kitman the head of the Hololens wowed the audience at a recent TED talk and even had NASA scientist Jeff Norris join him on stage via the holoportation technology. He then talked to the audience about how NASA is using the Hololens technology.

It is indeed fair to say this technology is several years away for the moment – and it may never see commercial release. But the intention of the Microsoft team is to push the boundaries of what is possible and to basically show off the technology. And in that this project must be seen as a resounding success.

show off the technology. And in that this project must be seen as a resounding success.

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