telehuman

Telehuman, video conferencing with life-size 3D hologram

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Researchers at Queen's University in Canada have developed Telehuman, a 3D video conferencing system that allows two people to talk as if they were facing each other.

In the Star Wars saga, the trusty R2-D2 robot is used several times to establish a videoconference by projecting a full-length image of the interlocutor. Same in Star Trek, where the protagonists talk to each other through holograms. This technology exists and it works! A team of Queen's university in Canada (Ontario) has developed a 3D videoconferencing module that allows two people to talk to each other as if they were facing each other.

Called Telehuman, the system consists of a cylindrical screen inside which a life-size hologram of the interlocutor is projected. "Why use Skype when you can chat with a 3D holographic image of another person? "says Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen's University, the company behind the invention. Video games, telemedicine, sports are all potential applications evoked by the researchers of the Human Media Lab, who point out that Telehuman was designed using existing technologies.

The 1.80 metre cylindrical screen is a translucent acrylic sheet topped with a convex mirror. Six Kinect sensors are arranged at the top of the cylinder to capture a 360-degree video that is transmitted in real time to a 3D video projector at the base. The latter projects the holographic image of the person onto the convex mirror. The system generates a stereoscopic 3D image that can be viewed without special glasses. The other advantage is that the 360-degree view makes it possible to "rotate" the hologram to see the person from the side or back, for example.

Video processing is optimized by creating a grayscale wireframe representation on each frame to which a textured veneer is applied.

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Concrete applications of Telehuman

To test this technology, researchers at the Human Media Lab asked a yoga teacher to take several complex poses that volunteers were asked to reproduce from the instructor's 3D hologram. The result was more accurate poses than with a 2D broadcast image.

Telehuman broadcasts a life-size holographic video of the interlocutor in 3D. Queen's University/Human Media Lab

"The Telehuman system has potential applications in a wide range of areas where 2D screens restrict users' views," the researchers explain. They cite, for example, the teaching of certain sports, such as golf, where the possibility of examining the body from different angles can be of great benefit in improving gestures. Telemedicine could also benefit by allowing the practitioner to examine a patient remotely from all possible perspectives. This would be the case, for example, in orthopaedics. Of course, video games would also be concerned by the possibility of using a life-size representation of a person instead of an avatar, which would increase realism and immersion in first-person scenarios. For the time being, Telehuman is not yet expected to find commercial opportunities.

The Human Media Lab team will continue the development and explains that it intends to work in particular on a multi-user mode to enable group videoconferencing. To do this, it is a question of moving from the TCP transport protocol to the UDP protocol, which allows a smoother transfer in the context of streaming. The researchers indicate that their technique will be able to support the increase in bandwidth induced by the multi-user mode without the need to modify the hardware configuration of the Telehuman module. R2-D2 coming soon? (Source: Futura Sciences /May 2012)

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