The future has arrived!

23 May 2012

Written by: Anne Nielsen

Ever since the Star Wars saga astonished the world in the 1970s, we have been fascinated with different futuristic elements in the movies. As Princess Leia begged Obi-Wan Kenobi to come out from hiding, the world started obsessing with the idea of speaking with three-dimensional holograms.

At the recently held premier international conference on human-computer interaction (CHI 2012) it was revealed that the obsessing is one big step closer to reality. Canadian scientists and software giant Microsoft both showed their interpretation of the future when introducing their new technologies.

Telehuman, created by students and scientists from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, replaces the screen we would normally use for videoconferencing with a cylinder. This cylinder then shows a three-dimensional image of the person you are speaking with, by constantly measuring your position relative to the cylinder.

This is done with six Kinect modules from Microsoft, normally used in connection with Xbox 360 and game playing. At the same time, these modules capture an image of the viewer, which is then shown on the cylinder of the sender.

By going in to partnership with private investors, the people behind Telehuman expect to have the cylinder on the market in a few years. The price of this fine machinery: approximately A$ 4,800.

The technology can be viewed here:

Microsoft is similarly working on a technology that enables two people to communicate in 3D, however, this invention will also make it possible for these people to move around the same objects.

The concept is called MirageTable, and it uses a bended, white screen to project the hologram onto. For this reason, the actual projection is only two-dimensional, and the user must utilize 3D-glasses in order to get the full experience.

This technology can be seen here:

While these technologies may seem like they come from a galaxy far, far away, holograms are actually becoming an increasing part of our reality. Deceased rapper Tupac recently performed as a hologram at Coachella Festival in California, which has inspired rock band Queen to do the same with late lead singer Freddie Mercury.

The fact that the future, as many pictured it when watching the Star Wars saga, has arrived, is both exciting and scary at the same time. I must say, however, as an expat with high usage of Skype, three-dimensional holograms do not sound too shabby.

Anne Nielsen is third-year Bachelor of Media Studies student at La Trobe University. She is currently on exchange from Aarhus University, Denmark, and is upstart’s deputy-editor. You can follow her on Twitter @AnneRyvang.