'Holoportation' demo makes live-video holograms look easy

Microsoft Research shows off how HoloLens can bring distant family members into your living room.

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Microsoft Research
Microsoft Research
Last June Microsoft showed off its HoloLens tech that created holograms from live video. Now it's putting that into practice and giving it an official name: Holoportation. It uses multiple 3D cameras to capture a subject from all angles, creating a "temporally consistent model" that can mimic the feeling of someone being in a room with you. During a TED Talk,Alex Kipman used it to virtually meet with a colleague in front of a Mars backdrop, but this lab demo from Microsoft Research shows something a bit more realistic. That is, so long as you're wearing one of the $3,000 augmented reality headsets.

The setup is in an incredibly controlled environment (the remote location and where the video hosted by Microsoft Research's Shahram Izadai are laid out pretty similarly), but it definitely shows the potential of using the device as a means of long-distance communication. You can even record a portion of a holoportation session and play it back, shrinking it down to size to fit on your coffee table. It's pretty neat! But it's still incredibly early. Artifacts resulting from compression or motion tracking are still present, a reminder that this is still a prototype, and break the illusion a bit.

Check out the picture-in-picture shots and you'll see the somewhat flickery and translucent images that go part and parcel with the headset at this point. Despite that, it's hard to not get at least a little excited for a future where real-time holographic meet-ups with a loved one (or a zombie) exist.

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