We may still be quite some way off the invention of lightsabers, hyperdrives, and hoverbikes but, thanks to Microsoft, there’s one Star Wars technology that can now be experienced using the company’s augmented reality HoloLens device: holographic communications.
Microsoft showed off the HoloLens’ ability to create holograms from live video last year, but now the company’s Interactive 3D Technologies group has released a video showing off the technology, which is called ‘Holoportation,’ in action.
It’s still in the early stages of development, which means Holoportation currently requires a specialized capture rig consisting of multiple 3D cameras to record people’s movements and speech in real-time. The system recreates 3D models of what the cameras are recording, adds textures, then compresses the data before transmitting it to a HoloLens user in a different location.
Another element of Holoportation that closely resembles the technology seen in the Star Wars franchise is its ability to record portions of holographic communication sessions and replay them. It will even be possible to shrink the recordings down from actual-size to miniaturized versions that are small enough to fit on a coffee table.
Sadly, we don’t know when or if Holoportation will become commercially available. The huge setup it requires obviously isn’t going to be cheap, but future iterations may see the system’s cameras reduced in size and number.
Holographic communications is certainly a technology that has applications for businesses, and could be used as a way to sell the HoloLens to the enterprise market. Whether it ever becomes a popular, simple method of communication for consumers remains to be seen, but for the sake of Star Wars fans everywhere, let's hope it catches on.