Skype achieves video calls with 3D holographic avatars, but don’t hold your breath

skype achieves video calls with 3d holographic avatars microsoft hologram avatar

While many companies continue to make do with audio-only conference calls, or possibly ones where remote participants are stuck up on a video screen, Skype is hoping that one day it’ll be able to offer businesses technology that creates 3D holographic avatars, with participants – both present and remote – sitting around the same table.

Many years away?

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, told the BBC this week that the company had recently achieved the futuristic-sounding scenario in a lab, although it could be many years before the technology is rolled out to businesses.

To many, it might sound like an awesome idea, though one can well imagine meetings in the early days making little progress as those present spend most of their time prodding and poking the hologram because “he looks like he’s really there.”

Job ad

A job ad posted back in April revealed Microsoft and Skype were in the midst of working on such technology.

The short-term goal, the ad said, was to “develop the hardware and software necessary to have a realistic physical ‘body-double’ or proxy in a remote meeting – one that gives the remote worker a true seat at the table, the ability to look around the room, turn to a colleague and have a side conversation.”

Gillett said the company’s lab-based work had looked at the potential of 3D screens and 3D capture.

“We‘ve seen a lot of progress in screens and a lot of people now buy TVs and computer monitors that are capable of delivering a 3D image,” the executive said. “But the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle.”

Ecosystem of devices

Gillett said that now that his engineers have proved that such holographic avatar calls are possible, they’re now “looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market.”

3D of any kind has failed to really capture the public’s imagination up to now, so whether Skype’s technology would even be taken up were it to be rolled out is open to question, though most will admit it’d sure be fun to try out.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes which distinguish the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

After a month of bugs, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally here

After more thoroughly investigating and resolving all bugs and related issues, Microsoft is announcing the Windows 10 October 2018 is again rolling out to consumers starting today, November 13. 
Computing

Installing fonts in Windows 10 is quick and easy -- just follow these steps

Want to know how to install fonts in Windows 10? Here's our guide on two easy ways to get the job done, no matter how many you want to add to your existing catalog, plus instructions for deleting fonts in the process.
Computing

Changing file associations in Windows 10 is quick and easy with these steps

Learning how to change file associations can make editing certain file types much quicker than manually selecting your preferred application every time you open them. Just follow these short steps and you'll be on your way in no time.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Computing

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as picking from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.