How Microsoft's HoloLens could change communication via 'Holoportation'

Microsoft Research is working on a 3D communications technology that simulates teleportation using the HoloLens augmented-reality glasses that it has dubbed 'Holoportation.'
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Since Microsoft first took the wraps off its HoloLens mixed reality goggles, the company has demonstrated a number of potential consumer and business uses for the device.


But in a newly published video clip, Microsoft revealed yet another potential, yet futuristic use: As a communication device using a technique its researchers have dubbed "Holoportation."

The Walking Cat (@h0x0d on Twitter) posted a link on March 25 with a clip of a Holoportation demonstration. He said this may be the same technology, shown here in more detail and depth, that HoloLens creator Alex Kipman demonstrated during his February 201 TED Talk about holographic computing.

The link to the Microsoft Research site includes a lot more information about Holoportation, which Microsoft execs describe as "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 and interact with remote participants in 3D as if they are actually present in their physical space. Communicating and interacting with remote users becomes as natural as face to face communication," the research page says.

In the Holoportation demo, the two participants seem to be in the same physical space, even though they aren't. The 3D models captured by the HoloLens are projected into the real world.

Here's the Microsoft Research clip showing how Holoportation works:

The Holoportation project comes from the Microsoft Research Interactive 3D Technologies (I3D) team, which works on projects that combine "research on 3D graphics, computer vision, machine learning, novel hardware, augmented reality and NUI (natural user interfaces," according to that group's page.

The I3D team members previously were involved with other similarly themed research projects including Kinect Fusion and HoloDesk. Their page notes that the team's "research themes" involve mixed reality with real-time tracking and reconstruction, new designs for cameras for capturing reality, and new algorithms for inferring physical properties in a scene.

Microsoft is on tap to provide more HoloLens information, education and demonstrations during its Build 2016 developers conference in San Francisco from March 30 to April 1.

Just a reminder: Holoportation is still a research project at this point. Microsoft has just started shipping its HoloLens developer kits, and still hasn't set a date as to when HoloLens devices will be available commercially to business users or consumers.

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