How many of you take advantage of your smartphone’s ability to place video calls? Whether you’re using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or any of a number of third-party services, modern apps give us tons of ways to feel a slightly closer connection to the friend or family member we’re calling, by putting a face to that interaction. But now we’re thinking a little beyond the confines of our phones’ screens and learning about what just might be the next big thing for video calls, as Microsoft Research shows off its Room2Room, letting users interact with a life-size projection of each other.
Right now Room2Room is a relatively bulky system, employing a digital projector married to a Microsoft Kinect scanner. The Kinect bar scans the callers on each end, while the projector on the opposite side of the call creates a virtual presence of the distant user.
The system is capable of dealing with furniture, letting users sit opposite each other in chairs that may be thousands of miles apart, while getting the experience of being right there in the room with each other.
If making Room2Room is such a big production, why are our mobile-focused eyes so interested? Well, the tech may be a little on the large size right now, but imagine what could be accomplished with a device that combines the scanning prowess of something like that upcoming Lenovo Project Tango phone, while integrating its own pico projector? Just place a handset like that on the table in front of you, and you could be chatting with a virtual colleague in seconds.
Right now, Microsoft Research is working on improving the resolution of Room2Room imagery, and augmented reality experts suggest a commercial version of the tech may be ready in a few years.