Microsoft Building Holographic Telepresence System
4/26/2013 by: Anshel Sag
Microsoft has put a job posting online for a Principal Engineer to help them build their holographic telepresence system. While it remains to be seen how this will be accomplished entirely, it looks like Microsoft has already made some significant headway in the research and development arena as they have already published a paper about it back in 2012.
Looking at the details for the job listing, Microsoft talks about helping to create a realistic physical “body-double” in a remote meeting where they are nowhere near. Microsoft’s future goal is to integrate such a technology into Skype to enable telepresence video conversation via Skype. Judging by the desire for expertise in WinRT, Win8 and mobile applications, Microsoft appears to be going with a mobile play with this technology, potentially enabling users to remote into a meeting from their smartphone.
Reading further into the technology details in the paper written last year, the technology is capable of combining kinect cameras, IR cameras, color cameras and IR laser projectors to generate a 3D dot image of a person. Once that dot image is captured it is then re-produced using dot images on multiple projectors. Using the image from Figure one, you can see that the images will likely be generated using three different imaging devices and then recreated using projectors to create a virtual meeting.
This is the holy grail of telepresence as it would potentially enable anyone to be anywhere anytime and to have real conversations with people rather than talk over the phone or videochat. Human interaction and expressions are invaluable in business communication and nothing beats a 3D reproduction of another person that is halfway around the world other than the real thing. Microsoft talks about the ability for these computer generated 3D projections of people to be able to turn to each other and talk and hear each other as if they were in the same room. Microsoft's goal is to enable real conversations, potentially multiple conversations, in the same meeting room where it could be possible that nearly nobody is actually there.
We’re really excited to see what Microsoft is able to do with this team of engineers and hopefully they find the right person to lead this team to their final goal. Because, I think everyone would agree that such a technology is beyond awesome and would be really cool to see. It will be interesting to see what APIs Microsoft tries to employ and whether or not they develop their own APIs for this project or if they will try to utilize existing open APIs like OpenCV for computer vision and COLLADA from Khronos’ 3D repository.
Either way, it is good to see that Microsoft is serious about this project and we really hope to see something from them in the near future.
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