Microsoft Channels Star Wars With 'Holoportation' Virtual 3D Teleportation Technology


The early focus on emerging virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technologies is on gaming, but there are many other potential applications for this stuff. One of them is simple remote communication, which Microsoft demonstrated through holoportation, a neat new technology that allows people in remote locations to interact with one another as if they're in the same room. It's video conferencing on steroids.

"Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time. When combined with mixed reality displays such as HoloLens, this technology allows users to see, hear, and interact with remote participants in 3D as if they are actually present in the same physical space, Microsoft explains.

This is Star Wars level stuff, only without R2-D2 beaming pre-recorded messages. With holoportation, everything happens in real time, which makes communicating and interacting with remote users just as natural as if being in the same physical space. Or so that's the claim from Microsoft, and after viewing its YouTube demonstration, we won't argue against it.

As you might imagine, you need some high tech gear to pulls this off—standing in front of your Xbox One's second generation Kinect motion sensor won't cut it. To make holoportation possible, Microsoft created a new type of 3D capture technology.that requires multiple 3D cameras around the room. Each one captures the subject from a different viewpoint and then fuses them together to create a temporally consistent model.

holoportation family

The natural pitch for something like this is being able to communicate with family members from across the country. In that way, you can think of this like FaceTime, only much more advanced in function.

If you want to go the Stars Wars route, you can also record and save these sessions. In doing that, you can revisit memories you've created in 3D. And since the content is 3D, it can be manipulated, such as shrinking it down to play back on a coffee table.

This is precisely the sort of thing that makes HoloLens so unique, and at this early stage we're only scratching the surface of what's possible.