Microsoft’s research division is looking to one-up Skype in a big way. With all of the recent developments in virtual reality, it is easy to forget its brother, augmented reality. Last year, Microsoft debuted its HoloLens technology, a headset you can wear to use augmented reality programs. Now they have a use for it, and they have named it ‘Holoportation’.
While Holoportation is hardly the most creative of terms, it does get the point across. Using 3D cameras from multiple angles, a subject is recorded and presented as a ‘hologram’ to a user of a HoloLens. To the user, it is like the subject has just ‘teleported’ into their living room. If both parties are using Holoportation, what it amounts to is basically 3D Skype.
An interesting feature that the team added was the ability to record Holoporation sessions. This allows users to play back sessions and resize them for more convenient viewings. Microsoft describes these recordings as ‘living memories’, and while that’s a bit of a stretch, it is certainly an innovative feature.
Before anyone gets too excited to set this up in their own home, Microsoft is likely still years away from making this available to consumers. While watching the video, we can see there are times when the hologram flickers or becomes transparent. There is also the price to consider.
As of right now, Microsoft is only selling a prototype version of the HoloLens to developers, so that they can begin developing software for the device. This development version cost $3,000 (£2,117). Now add in the cost of the dozen or so 3D cameras, plus the price tag that Microsoft decides to give the Holoportation software, and it is safe to say we are still a few years away from this being a household technology.
Microsoft’s Holoportation may be the communication method of the future, but for now Skype is still the best way for talking ‘face-to-face’ over long distance. However, it does seem safe to say that Skype’s days just became numbered.