World’s first truly holographic telepresence system unveiled.

Current commercial video conferencing systems, like Skype, are still mostly limited to small displays. Some systems, like CISCO’s TelePresence system, support life-sized images, however most conferencing or telehealth solutions do not convey images of remote interlocutors at sizes which are consistent with perceived social distance for natural discourse.  Now, a study from researchers at Queen’s University develops TeleHuman 2, the world’s first truly holographic video-conferencing system. The team state that TeleHuman2 allows people in different locations to appear before one another in life-size 3D, as if they were in the same room.  The study was presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Previous studies show that both continuous motion parallax and stereoscopy are easily supported in Augmented or Virtual Reality systems, such as Microsoft’s Hololens, however, this comes at a cost of requiring a head-worn apparatus which obscures capturing of facial expressions and eye contact.  The current study develops TeleHuman2, a life-sized holographic telepresence system capable of conveying stereoscopy and continuous motion parallax around a cylindrical light field display without glasses or head tracking.

The current study uses a ring of intelligent projectors mounted above and around a retro-reflective, human-sized cylindrical pod, to project objects as light fields which can be walked around and viewed from all sides simultaneously by multiple users, much like Star Trek’s famed, fictional ‘holodeck’. Results show that capturing the remote 3D image with an array of depth cameras, live, 3D images of a human was teleported from one room to another.  Data findings show that because the display projects a light field with many images, one for every degree of angle, users need not wear a headset or 3D glasses to experience each other in augmented reality.

The lab state with TeleHuman 2, multiple participants are able to see their holographic friend or colleague, each from their individual perspective. To test the system the group had users judge angles at which a robotic arrow, mounted on a tripod, was pointing whilst physically present in the room, and whilst rendered on the TeleHuman 2. They did not judge the angles between the real and the virtual representation as significantly different.

The team surmise they have developed a full-holographic telepresence system, the TeleHuman2, which conveys full-sized 3D video of remote participants in real-time via a cylindrical light field display, without the use of head-gear.  For the future, the researchers state their system has potential beyond professional situations such as large music festivals, with a performer capable of appearing in true 3D, on TeleHuman 2 devices throughout the venue. They conclude that TeleHuman technology could even mitigate environmental impacts of business travel, enabling organizations to conduct more engaging and effective meetings from a distance, rather than having to appear in person.

Source:  Queen’s Human Media Lab

Life-size holograms set to revolutionize videoconferencing

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