Remember all those science fiction movies and television shows that depicted people in a future time, talking to life-sized holographic images? That time is now. A research team from Queen's University in Ontario has developed a video communications system that allows you to speak with an eerie three-dimensional representation of the person on the other end of the line.
Under the guidance of Professor Roel Vertegaal, director of the university's Human Media Lab, the team uses some pretty common components to create a pretty uncommon communications device. A series of Microsoft Kinect sensors and 3D camera equipment team up to capture the three-dimensional image of each conversant. On the other end of the computer communications set-up, a 3D projector casts the image within an acrylic cylinder equipped with a convex mirror. What results is two people talking to life-like projected images of each other. The team calls the it the Telehuman.
Besides just the sheer awesome factor, Telehuman gives users the ability to convey body language that would be lost on a flat display, bringing the experience closer to face-to-face communications in the real world. You can even walk around the entire perimeter of the person's image and see their back and sides.
"Why Skype when you can talk to a life-size 3D holographic image of another person?" asks Dr. Vertegaal.
Well, you don't have to be a professor to answer that question, rhetorical as it may be. Remember when you watched the Jetsons and their awesome video phones, and couldn't wait for the real, live version? Well, it's here, but there is a downside.
Instead of getting to hide behind the blissfully blind telephone, now you, your bed head, your shirt stain, the broccoli in your teeth from last night's dinner (maybe?) and the bags under your eyes get all up in the face of your boss, your coworkers and your loved ones ... and, possibly worse, vice versa.
On the plus side, we reckon Telehuman would take webcam sexy time to a whole different level – at least before you go crashing through the pod and destroy thousands of dollars of equipment in a hormone-entranced outburst.
This isn't one of the two potential applications of the Telehuman technology shown in the video below. The second is called Bodipod, a medical imaging function that allows you to pull off layers of skin to study anatomy.