Star Trek 'holodeck' created

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A Queen's University researcher has built a hologram-like 'telepod' that lets people in different locations video conference as if they are standing in front of each other.

"Why Skype when you can talk to a life-size 3D holographic image of another person?" says professor Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab.

With his TeleHuman technology, two people simply stand in front of their own life-size cylindrical pods and talk to a 3D hologram-like image of each other. Cameras capture and track 3D video and convert it into the life-size image.

It's even possible to walk around the image and see the other person’s side or back.

In fact, the system wasn't that complicated to produce. It's based mostly on existing hardware, including a 3D projector, a 1.8 metre-tall translucent acrylic cylinder and a convex mirror. Ten Microsoft Kinects capture 360 3D video, whcih is projected onto the person-sized cylindrical display.

The researchers have also used the technique to create another application called BodiPod, an interactive 3D anatomy model of the human body. The model can be explored through 360 degrees, with gestures and speech interactions.

When people approach the Pod, gesture recognition allows them to 'peel off' layers of tissue, and an X-ray mode allows users to see deeper into the anatomy, revealing the muscles, organs and bone structure. Voice commands such as "show brain" or "show heart" will automatically zoom in to a 3D model.