True hologram projections are still, unfortunately, in the realm of science fiction. But Microsoft is bringing that future to us in a roundabout way via what it calls ‘holoportation’.
What happens is that multiple 3D cameras will capture a subject, creating a realistic model from the images captured from various angles. It’s still really at demo stages at Microsoft Research but the results are pretty impressive at first glance.
There’s no plug-and-play with this, however. While the 3D cameras can create a rather realistic looking model, you can only view the model via US$3,000 augmented reality headsets. The subject sending over the hologram won’t be able to see anything or interact with any objects – meaning you can send over a hologram of yourself but said hologram won’t be able to see or interact with anything where it is.
You can still interact with the hologram via speech, just you have to understand the hologram can’t see you even if you can see it. The hologram model isn’t perfect either; you can spot artifacts on the model that show it is definitely computer projected.
Still you can do fun things with the recorded hologram. You could, for instance, shrink said recording and project it onto other surfaces. Make it look as though the models are speaking to you from a chair or table for instance.
While it seems real virtual hologram messaging is still far away from what we saw in Star Wars (Princess Leia’s “You’re our only hope” projection comes to mind), it’s still exciting to see some progress in the field. Perhaps a good compromise would be two people connected via the Internet and seeing projections of each other via augmented technology. Still rather futuristic and well, less awkward since it’d be more of a two-way street as opposed to one side seeing a hologram and the other not seeing a thing.