Surely, everyone has imagined being able to teleport. We’ve seen teleportation in movies countless times. There is one company that has developed a technology making this ability possible…in a sense.
The company is Microsoft and the technology is ‘holoportation’. This technology is receiving a lot of attention through its use of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) to create a ‘Mixed Reality’ device.
With this device, people can talk with others in distant locations as if they were together in the same space. A promotional video from Microsoft shows people in different places appearing to be in the same room shaking hands and interacting together using holoportation.
The term Holoportation is a combination of the words ‘HoloLens’ and ‘Transportation’. The technology works using a computer system with 3D imaging capabilities that can transmit imaging to terminals on either end of a network.
The prototype of HoloLens was released by Microsoft last year. When users put on the glasses shaped device with HoloLens installed, the device overlays the image from the lens onto the actual surroundings.
Holoportation is not only made possible with new technology, there are also technologies included that have been around a while. There are several steps involved in the process.
First of all, several high-performance 3D cameras must be installed around the location where the device will be used. Each camera must be able to recognize the user’s movements and capture high-resolution images.
The data captured by the cameras is then used to generate 3D modeling. The 3D modeling data is then sent to the HoloLens device making it possible to use anywhere in the world.
This technology has the unique characteristic of removing the limitations of space. With holoportation, people in different countries will be able to hold meeting in the same space without having to travel overseas. This functionality adds a very economical advantage.
Also, because the images from a meeting can be freely rendered in any space, the device will have a significant impact on business meetings. When the technology comes into common use, it is likely to be targeted at businesses.
As the device is primarily for interaction between people, family and friends located far apart can get a true sense of being together. However, technology allowing people to experience the sense of touch still needs to be further developed.
② Virtual Space
As mentioned above, the most important role of holoportation is interaction between people. People can be seen communicating as holograms in Microsoft’s promotional video as well.
But holoportation is not only for people. In the same way that VR is being used in manufacturing, holoportation will be helpful when multiple people from different locations are working to design or produce objects and buildings.
Last year, Microsoft demonstrated a Minecraft game simulation using Xbox and HoloLens. The game allowed users to feel they were truly stacking or breaking blocks while wearing the HoloLens device.
Holoportation can also be used as an extension of this type of application. It can add a more exciting element of engagement when the user is playing games.
Because the device itself will be high-priced when it is released, the cost needs to be reduced before the technology can truly take hold in the market.
In 2009, the MIT Media Lab released a user motion recognition computing device called SixthSense. They are currently working on methods of connecting the real world with the digital world.
Holoportation is expected to become very popular as a method of connecting the real and virtual worlds.
As holoportation is still in the development stage, there are still limitations due to the lack of spaces that HoloLens can generate and additional hardware is still required.
Also, because all the data from the cameras must be combined and processed, a high-performance GPU is required and this will make using the technology even more expensive.
The holoportation development project team is working hard to improve the issues mentioned above. The goal of their work is to make holoportation as commonplace as the home theater.
This year, Microsoft is releasing a ‘HoloLens Development Edition’ for general users. In the same way that HoloLens took a year to get from prototype to the market, we should soon be able to experience ‘holoportation devices’ in the near future as well.
This technology seems like something from a SciFi movie but, in fact, it is becoming a reality.
We can expect to see more and more fascinating technological developments that will improve our lives in the near future.
Written by Yonghoon Kim, LG CNS Student Reporter