Move over tele-commuting. Microsoft’s Holoportation will be the remote office of the future. The somewhat distant future. Microsoft has just published an update to its Holoportation idea that is making Star Wars like holographic communication a reality. And while the technology has already been proven to work, it’s far from being something you can really use anytime anywhere. In this latest iteration, however, Microsoft takes one step closer to that ideal, by allowing Holoportation to fit and be used inside a moving car.
In a nutshell, Microsoft’s Holoportation is a combination of its holographic and mixed reality technologies that records a person in another location and “projects” a full 3D representation in real-time and in another location. However, it isn’t exactly projecting into thin air like a real hologram. Instead, you view the 3D image through a headset like the Microsoft HoloLens or even an HTC Vive.
The technology was first revealed back in March this year before Microsoft’s 2016 BUILD conference. This time, however, Microsoft Research makes a significant step forward by reducing both the physical footprint as well as the needed bandwidth to make Holoportation work. To put it simply, they’re able to place the whole machine inside a car and require “only” 30 to 50 Mbps of bandwidth, which is still a lot. In practice, this makes it possible to use Holoportation inside a moving vehicle, as long as there’s a strong and good Wi-Fi connection.
Holoportation aims to make remote communication more personal by providing an actual, 3D, and real-time representation of the people you’re talking with (say goodbye to video conferencing in your PJs). There’s still a lot of work to be done, however. The in-vehicle implementation uses only two cameras, which results in lower image quality. More cameras mean higher resolutions but also requires more space. The bandwidth requirement is still pretty big, despite the 97% reduction from the first prototype. This would mean that cellular data is still out of the question.
And in case you’re wondering, the current setup requires the user to be at the back seat. Which is well and good, because you won’t want to be Holoporting while driving anyway.