A new innovation can create 360 degree, 3D holograms using sensors and a 3D projector.
While holographic images are not new, a new innovation brings us one step closer to making the holodeck a reality. Dr Roel Vertegaal, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the Queen’s University Human Media Lab, has developed TeleHuman, a holographic videoconferencing system. Dr Vertegaal’s technique uses Kinect sensors and a 3D projector to capture life-size 3D images of a subject. The system sends this information to a cylindrical display unit. Additionally, TeleHuman allows multiple viewers to walk around the hologram, giving a greater range of interaction.
Dr Vertegaal describes the advantage of using TeleHuman is that it allows greater transfer of non-verbal information. This is something most online tools do not enable. According to Dr Vertegall, “TeleHuman 2 injects these missing elements into long-distance conversations with a realism that cannot be achieved with a Skype or Facetime video chat”. Furthermore, he adds that being able to see gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact can improve empathy in a conversation. The original release of the system took place in 2012. However, at the time, 3D glasses were necessary to use the system. The new version allows multiple viewers to see the hologram without using any additional viewing devices.
The team hope to have the TeleHuman ready for commercial use within five years, and estimate initial cost of the device to be around $5000 USD. While it may be too expensive for home use, the holograms could be useful in business meetings. Another use for the system, Dr Vertegaal suggests, could be to allow concert-goers to view performers up close and personal from any seat in the house. The TeleHuman joins an array of innovations aimed at improving communications. For example, a VR system that allows collaborative work and augmented reality that can bring training manuals to life. Will the TeleHuman be the first step in creating a complete holodeck experience?