'TeleHuman' taps Kinect for 3D holographic videoconferencing

A Queen's University researcher has created a Star Trek-like human-scale 3-D videoconferencing pod that allows people in different locations to video conference as if they were standing in front of each other.
Written by Chris Jablonski, Inactive on


Credit: Human Media Lab, Queen's University

Researchers at the Human Media Lab at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, have developed a life-sized hologram-like telepod that uses Microsoft's Kinect System and a cylindrical display for live, 3D videoconferencing.

The system, called "TeleHuman," allows two people to simply stand in front of their own pods and talk to 3D hologram-like images of each other. An array of six Kinect sensors mounted at the top of the display capture track 3D video and convert it into the lifesize image.

Since the 3D image is visible 360 degrees around the pod, the person can walk around it to see the other person’s side or back, a key advantage over flat displays.

"Why Skype when you can talk to a lifesize 3D holographic image of another person?" said professor Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab.

TeleHuman was built primarily with existing hardware, including a 3D projector installed at the base of the 1.8 meter-tall translucent acrylic cylinder and a convex mirror.

The researchers used the same pod to create another application called BodiPod, which presents an interactive 3D anatomical model of the human body. Through gestures and speech control, the model can be explored 360 degrees; and when people approach the pod, they can wave their hands to peel off layers of human tissue.

While 3-D holographic video is not a new technology (Cisco and Musion Systems created an on-stage holographic video conference 5 years ago), TeleHuman demonstrates that it can be done for a lot cheaper using the versatile Kinect platform and off-the-shelf hardware.

Dr. Vertegaal will unveil TeleHuman and BodiPod at CHI 2012, an international conference on human-computer interaction, held in Austin, Texas, from May 5 to 10.


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