3D Conferencing – The Star Wars Way

starwars communicationAt Queens’s University in Kingston, researchers have developed a 3D videoconferencing system called Telehuman.  If you’re a starwars fan, you’ll love this little piece of technology as it’s similar to the hologram communications R1-D2 famously displayed in the original trilogy!  The Telehuman system allows people to speak ‘face to face’ from a distance.  It’s essentially a dramatically enhanced video conference.  “Why use Skype when you can interact with a 3D holographic image of another person?”says Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University.  Video games, telemedicine, sports are all potential applications discussed by researchers at the Human Media Lab that highlight the fact that Telehuman was developed from existing technologies.

The 1.8m cylindrical screen of is a translucent acrylic sheet topped with a convex mirror. Six sensors are placed at the top of the cylinder to capture a 360-degree video that is transmitted in real-time 3D video projector placed at the base. The projector projects the holographic image of the person onto the convex mirror. The system produces a 3D image without special glasses that are typical of 3D video. The other advantage is that the 360-degree view allows you to move around the hologram to see side and back views of the person at the other end.


Practical Telehuman Applications

In testing the technology, researchers at the Human Media Lab asked a yoga instructor to do several complex poses where test volunteers had to reproduce  the poses from viewing the 3D hologram of the instructor. The results were more precise than the same test with a 2D image displayed.

“The Telehuman system has potential applications in many areas where 2D screens restrict the views of users,” the researchers said. Teaching  some sports, like golf, where the possibility of examining the trainer’s body position from different angles can bring great benefit to improving replication. Telemedicine could also benefit by allowing the practitioner to examine a patient at a distance under all possible views. This would be particularly the case for orthopedics. Of course, video games are also affected by the possibility of using a life-size representation of a person rather than a avatar, which would increase the realism and experience in first-person scenario games. Telehuman has not entered the commercial world as of yet, but it looks like it’ll go that way eventually.

The team of the Human Media Lab will continue to develop their work, in particular a multi-user mode to help achieve group videoconferences. For this, Transport Protocol TCP UDP protocol is needed, which allows a more fluid transfer through a streaming. The researchers say their technique will support increased bandwidth induced by the multi-user mode without the need to modify the hardware configuration of the Telehuman module. Will we all soon have an R2-D2 at home?


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