HoloLens and HoloBeam make real-time, 3D holographic chat a futuristic reality

In March, Microsoft started shipping HoloLens development kits, and now we’re starting to see some of the first projects developed with the hardware’s unique capabilities in mind. Last week, the Kansas City, Missouri-based Valorem released a video of an impressive chat app called HoloBeam.

HoloBeam uses a stereoscopic camera to capture a 3D image of a person and beam it into someone else’s home via the HoloLens headset. It’s somewhere between Skype and the hologram-based communication system Emperor Palpatine uses in The Empire Strikes Back.

While wearing the headset, you’ll see the person that you’re chatting with in your environment as a hologram. The footage released by Valorem is really quite remarkable, depicting two people having a conversation in the same room, despite the fact that one is in Germany and the other is in the United States.

The app apparently features support for two-handed gestures, to make it easy to enter and exit conversations without needing to use an input device. Users can even get up and walk around in a 120-degree viewing angle before the image becomes distorted, according to a report from WinBeta.

However, there are some drawbacks to the way that the technology is implemented. Crucially, a stereoscopic camera is required to beam your image to another user — between the camera itself and the HoloLens headset, setting up a two-way conversation could end up being prohibitively expensive.

Despite the associated costs, it’s easy to see how HoloBeam could sell users on the abilities of HoloLens. This is the sort of futuristic implementation of technology that can encourage consumers to buy into a new type of device. It’s something that simply cannot be done without advance augmented reality hardware.

Valorem hopes to launch a tech preview of HoloBeam sooner rather than later, but there’s currently no set date on when HoloLens owners can try out the app for themselves.

Computing

AMD Radeon VII will support DLSS-like upscaling developed by Microsoft

AMD's Radeon VII has shown promise with early tests of an open DLSS-like technology developed by Microsoft called DirectML. It would provide similar upscale features, but none of the locks on hardware choice.
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Photography

Here are 8 GoPro tips to get the most out of your action cam

There's more to your GoPro camera than just mounting it to your skateboard. Whether it's finding the best accessories or understanding the settings more thoroughly, learn to shoot video like a pro with these simple GoPro tips and tricks.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Computing

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?
Computing

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.
Computing

Is AMD's Navi back on track for 2019? Here's everything you need to know

With a reported launch in 2019, AMD is focusing on the mid-range market with its next-generation Navi GPU. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles, like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Computing

Cortana wants to be friends with Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft no longer wants to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the digital assistant space. Instead, it wants to transform Cortana into a skill that can be integrated into other digital assistants.
Computing

Microsoft leans on A.I. to resume safe delivery of Windows 10 Update

Microsoft is leaning on artificial intelligence as it resumes the automatic rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. You should start seeing the update soon now that Microsoft has resolved problems with the initial software.
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!