The effect is like that scene in the original Star Wars movie, where Princess Leia pops up in a hologram and tells Obi-Wan Kenobi he’s her “only hope.” (The same concept is behind other holo-conferences sprinkled throughout the sequels and prequels.)
In a demo video, Microsoft Research’s Shahram Izadi shows how it works:
Long story short, a high-powered array of cameras and processors captures a 3-D video view of someone in a remote environment, and transmits the compressed data to the receiving side. Then the 3-D view is superimposed on the background you see through the HoloLens glasses. To conduct a give-and-take holo-conference like the meetings in Star Wars, each person would have to be hooked into the HoloLens network.
Izadi shows off interactions with co-workers in holo-space, including a virtual high-five. He conducts a conversation with his daughter, who’s beaming in from a different location. He can even rewind the video and shrink the scene down to replay itself on a tabletop, just like the message from Leia’s holographic mini-me.
“This becomes a magical way of experiencing these live-captured memories,” Izadi said.
Microsoft Research’s Interactive 3D Technologies team, a.k.a. I3D, is still working on the process, and it won’t be ready to pop out of the box when the HoloLens development kit is released. The team says papers about the technology are due to be presented at SIGGRAPH 2016 and CVPR 2016 this summer.
In the meantime, virtual-reality junkies can teleport themselves to another sci-fi universe, far, far away: the “Star Trek” holodeck built for SteamVR.