Aiming to make video conferencing more realistic, Chris Harrison and Scott E. Hudson of CMU’s Human Computer Interaction Institute have developed an implementation of pseudo-3D which can allow the viewer to “see around” the person they’re currently talking with. Although 3D conferencing equipment is already commercially available, this particular setup differs as it uses a standard webcam – such as found in most new notebooks.
Video demo after the cut
The app works by separating the individual and their background into two different virtual layers. Then, by tracking the head movement of the viewer, the software can “pan” the background around behind to give the impression that the webcam is moving.
Of course, this won’t stop that old embarrassing moment when you try to “look around” the person you’re video conferencing with to see something out of shot – go on, admit it, you’ve done it yourself - since it can only show you what the fixed webcam at the other end of the connection is able to see. Still, it might make things feel a little more natural.