Entrepreneurs know all too well the urgency of needing to be in two places at once. Thanks to Skype, we may soon be able to get one step closer. No, we're not talking about cloning people. The Microsoft-owned company confirmed that it is developing 3-D video calling technology.
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It's still a few years away at least, a Microsoft executive told the BBC. But Skype's investment in the technology is a good sign for the 3-D format that, at times, has felt like one with niche professional appeal, but weak interest from mainstream consumers.
With consumer-level 3-D projectors and screens retailing for less than $400 and $200, respectively, Gillett said the standardization of 3-D capable TV and computer displays makes delivering 3-D video calls feasible to a large consumer base. It's capturing the 3-D image that's the tricky part.
"We've done work in the labs looking at the capability of 3-D screens and 3-D capture," Gillett told the BBC. "But the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle."
It's like having a digital body double virtually sit in for a meeting with your colleagues while you're on the road for a sales call or even a family vacation. It could be a cool way for small teams to feel more connected when one or more member are away from the office for extended periods of time.
Hollywood director James Cameron, who made the 3-D hit Avatar, says a takeover of 3-D displays is inevitable because "that's how we see the world."
If it's only a novelty for Hollywood, do we really need it for our video calls? Is there an added benefit to being holographically "present" when we're physically not? Do we really want to come into the office, even virtually, when we're on vacation?
As Microsoft anticipates chief executive Steve Ballmer to step down, we'll have to wait and see if his replacement will have the vision and desire to see that this far out technology becomes a reality.
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