Microsoft’s “Holoportation” Rig Brings Star Wars Type Holograms To Life
Microsoft Research showed off new communications technology that relies on holograms to holoport people, but it still requires a lot of work
By Saad Chandna on Mar 28, 2016 at 12:14 pm EST
Interactive 3D Technologies, part of Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) research division, has created this technology which can facilitate remote face-to-face conversations. The YouTube video by I3D shows Shahram Izadi, research manager for the product, standing in a room appearing to talk to different people. He demonstrated how the technology works, by talking to different people including his own daughter.
He mentioned how Microsoft had to create new 3D capture technology, which requires the user who wants to be holoported to be surrounded by 3D cameras developed by the Microsoft Research team. Each camera captures the user from a different point, and the output is fused together in a temporally consistent model. A HoloLens tracking system allows users to take a 3D model and place it in the real world in real-time. The data is textured, compressed, and transmitted to the receiver, who will need to wear a HoloLens device to see the holoported person in front of them.
Mr. Izadi showed how he was able to communicate with his daughter, who holoported in the room since she was surrounded by the capture rig. Since she did not have a HoloLens device on, she was not able to see her father, but she could still hear him. After the session was complete, the Microsoft Research project lead showed the rig’s playback capabilities, which could play back the entire conversation in 3D. This allows users to replay conversations in an eerie fashion, hence going back in time. The whole experience is reminiscent of the pensieve from Harry Potter, which allows users to relive stored memories.
That said, this technology is also adaptable in terms of scale. Users can shrink down the subjects in the stored footage; if two people were shown conversing with each other, the size of the two people could be reduced to fit even on a coffee table. This particular feature can perhaps be used by tech giants to shrink down 3D capturing technology in the future – perhaps allowing users to communicate through a smartwatch, much like in sci-fi movies?
It is interesting to note that the figures are surrounded by a blue light, so the output is not entirely natural. There also appeared to be a bit of a lag in the video transition, resulting in the user’s movements being mimicked a second later. This appears to be akin to when a Skype call starts lagging, but given that this type of live recording technology is still in infancy, maybe Microsoft will iron out this issue in the long term.