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TeleHuman 2 as, close as it gets, today, to teleportation

Creating a life size image using advanced holographic technology, that’s the goal of TeleHuman 2. Credit: Human Media Lab, Queen’s University

Star Trek human teleportation is, and it will remain, in the science fiction domain. However, sending a much more limited set of information about ourselves, like more and more effective images, is possible and technology is progressing. Creating an holographic image that can cheat our eye (and brain) making us perceiving the presence of a person remains elusive although slow progress has been made.

Holographic images used to be greenish and small, now they can be rendered in a variety of colours and can be made real life size.

A good example of the progresses made by technology is provided by TeleHuman 2, a research carried out at the Human Media Lab, Queen’s University in Montreal Canada, aiming at creating a sense of presence for videoconferencing. It is not the first one, and possibly not the more effective one either (Cisco demonstrated an holographic presence a few years ago by teleporting a person on stage but the whole environment had to be customised -be very dark-).

The system uses a ring of projectors beaming light from different angles, covering the whole 360 degree space, onto an opaline cylinder. The various images are collected in real time by a set of 3D cameras (cameras that can evaluate the depth) and processed by a computer before being sent to the projectors (watch the clip).

There is no need for special glasses and many people can view the holographic image at the same time from different point of views (one can also move around the display to see the person (or object) displayed from different angles.

The quality is not good enough to trick your eyes. You are clearly seeing an artefact, not the real thing. Also notice the complexity of the setting making it unsuitable for your home.
The amount of hardware required makes it an expensive proposition so we can see that in spite of progress there remains a long way to walk.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.