One of the Redmond giant’s latest research projects may soon become a reality. Holograms and 3D Skype video conferences are no longer a futuristic dream, if this takes off.
Remember that part in Star Wars Episode IV, when R2-D2 records and then plays back in the form of a hologram a message from Princess Leia? Fast forward 36 years into the future and witness how Microsoft gives birth to 3D video conferences via Skype. Don’t worry, the new tech won’t be shipped off to other planets, the way the twins of Anakin Skywalker and Princess Amidala were. The company has yet to officially announce this, but a recent job listing suggests that all this information is more than just a rumor.
Business customers will benefit the most from this technology, but the other Skype users shouldn’t be neglected, either. One thing that is almost certain is that 3D video conferences will not be offered for free. The way I see it, the acquisition of Skype was one of the best moves Microsoft has ever made, as this software offers an ideal platform for technologies that exist at the moment, as well as technologies that have not been invented, yet. However, since that happened, some of Skype’s new featured were offered in the form of a monthly subscription. The 3D teleconference feature, if and when it will be available, will follow the same pattern, as all that research and development needs to be compensated somehow.
By the looks of it, the job listing addresses the Viewport project that Microsoft unveiled in April 2012. That project involved color and infrared cameras and projectors for creating a hologram at a remote location. Needless to say, such a technology would make video conferences more immersive, not to mention that the degree of interaction would be increased dramatically. Video conferences already imply more empathy than written communication or conversations over the phone, but the inclusion of a realistic physical “body-double” would lead to an even better experience. If Microsoft were to take all this even further, it should consider integrating the 3D telepresence technology into tablets and smartphones. After all, they talk in that job listing not only about the software, but also the hardware to support such features. The project is really ambitious, but I have no doubt that Microsoft will deliver it in a professional form in the not-so-distant future.
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