There are few cinematic moments more iconic than the Star Wars: Episode IV scene where Princess Leia asks Ben Kenobi for help via a holographic image projected out of R2-D2. But now, with the help of technology like Microsoft’s new “holoportation” system, moments like that are likely to be integrated into every aspect of daily life.
In the above video, a Microsoft researcher demonstrates the tech giant’s holoportation system, and the display should put to rest any doubts people may have about this technology becoming a reality—an augmented reality—in the near future.
The holoportation system, which is shown off in various pitch videos here, uses “a new type of 3D capture technology” that consists of a series of 3D cameras placed around a subject, each recording from a different viewpoint. These recordings—which include information about how far the light bouncing off the subject has traveled, thusly providing dimensionality—capture a 360-degree image that can be rendered as a 3D model using computer software. This 3D model can then be “composited in real time” via a HoloLens tracking system. This means that the 3D model recorded with the 3D cameras is projected onto a HoloLens visor, so it appears as a hologram in front of the user’s face. (Note that what the visor’s user actually sees is shown in the bottom left-hand corner of the video.)
The technology is seriously cool for so many reasons. First of all, notice that there are no markers on the subject—the guy doing all the talking—which is usually required for motion-capture technology. Second of all, not only can you record these holographic images in real time, you can also compress them, and then send them to somebody else to watch and interact with almost anywhere on Earth. And, in genuine Star Wars fashion, the recordings can also be saved and played back later, and even shrunken down in size.
This is all part of Microsoft’s effort to create what they call a “mixed reality,” which “blends 3D holographic content into your physical world, giving your holograms real-world context and scale, allowing you to interact with both digital content and the world around you.”
In other words, it’s time to bust out the Dejarik set and the holoprojectors ’cause integrated holographic communication is a comin’.
What do you think about this holoportation system? Are you ready for “mixed reality” brought to you by… Microsoft?! Let us know in the comments section below!
Images: Microsoft Research, Lucasfilm