The Telehuman provides 360 degrees of 3D video chat


May 4, 2012

It may not look like much when not in use, but that's your ticket to hologram-like communications

It may not look like much when not in use, but that's your ticket to hologram-like communications

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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.

Source: Queen's University via Dvice

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

It would be wierd to see a dead relative who was recorded in this format, kinda like seeing a ghost. But for the most part a 3D Skype would be plenty for me.

The Hoff

I actually saw a demo of something very similar to this in France circa 1985....

Chris Maresca

I've been waiting my whole life to see this, having read Asimov when I was young. And now that we see how it was done, it wasn't so mind-boggling after all. It just took somebody who wanted to do it.

I expect to die before I ever see it deployed. Many people are afraid of Skype - they'll freak when they see this. And women will need 2 hours notice before answering the phone.

Still, now that it's been seen, it is a matter of time before some marketing tool figures out how to sell it. Better late than never.


@The Hoff - kind of like Rimmer in the Red Dwarf Series? Well, if my entire personality would be captured as a hologram and I could live on in that for I take that.


@flame_can Just mount it on a mobile telepresense AI platform and you'd be one step closer to Rimmer. I still can't believe that Siri doesn't have the option of using the voice of Majel Barrett Roddenberry's wife. Perhaps someday a programmer will be able to recreate that someday, too.

Gene Jordan
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