Building Telepresence at its best!

It’s again time to write about the big players. Microsoft is currently running their Build 2016 conference and during their keynote the audience got excited about the announcements regarding the Hololens HMD. The shipping of the DEV kits is starting right now, the Microsoft team told under tears and hugs. Take a look at the 15 min video below if you have the time, but skip it to the second (way more cool) if you don’t have the time.

Their keynote showed typical marketing talk, but also allowed a few new insights and news. E.g. the previously presented Galaxy Explorer is now made publicly available (source code on GitHub) to learn from it. They also show how teaching medicine with Hololens might work, understanding anatomy and animating the flow in a human brain. Cool thing here is their remote teaching with a third person (remote) represented by a virtual avatar. In the demo it works like a charm. Let’s see how things work out under real conditions.

Also they show again NASA OnSight – Destination MARS – announcing a Disneyland-styled new attraction at Kennedy Space Center: Buzz Aldrin will explain Mars to us as a “hologram”. Check it out:

But the must-see today is definitely the Microsoft demo “Holoportation”: showing remote cooperation (or here rather remote family time) with the Hololens. A physically room exists twice and each room has one physical user, but the missing one is filled in through the augmentation. Take a look:

Their demo is well done and shows a nice living room atmosphere. It works well in this studio setup – with bright light and cameras put around in all directions to allow the real-time 3D capture. Only one user is in each space (probably also for a reason – to not cast 3D scanning shadows upon each other) and the props are rather low (wooden stools). No prop interaction (the dolls) takes place – and how could it? Well, we’ve seen papers to emulate cooperation on virtual and real objects remotely, but this demo is limited to the telepresence itself.

We can see gaps in the 3D reconstruction and the (kind-of) version of what can be seen on the Hololens (being a bit more translucent than the version presented in big). I think, it’s in general a convincing and real recorded state of the art, that’s impressive to see. You can easily imagine how this could work out in the near future!

In the next demo I’d love to see more on the topic of cooperation (on a virtual asset). We’ve seen the neat Oculus Touch demos on this topic, so it’d be great to see Microsoft tackle it as well.