Networked audiovisual systems and home platforms Collaborating from a distance in virtual 3-D
New display and networking technologies that allow people to interact with each other in three dimensions could revolutionise the way groups collaborate on business and social projects.
Web- and video-conferencing is already being used widely by many business people, scientists and doctors, among others, to cut down on travel when teams need to collaborate on a project or a job.
However, so far most networked audiovisual communications systems have presented participants to each other in only two dimensions. The lack of a third dimension (3-D) reduces the sense of ‘being there’ and is also an obstacle to virtual interaction with 3-D objects, be it an architectural mock-up, a car part or a medical model.
More natural interaction
A team of European researchers set out to create a sense of this third dimension. Working in the COHERENT project, they developed the first large-scale 3-D holographic display capable of showing true-colour images in high resolution to many people at the same time.
To make interaction even more natural and lifelike, they incorporated gesture recognition technology that allows observers to manipulate 3-D objects by moving their hands in front of the screen.
A ‘digital window’ to interact through
The holographic technology behind the display, developed by Hungarian partner Holografika, works like a digital window. Called HoloVizio, it is able to emit light of different colours and intensities in different directions, mimicking the visual effects that allow a person to view the world in 3-D even when looking through a regular screen.
The technology the project team developed differs from so-called auto-stereoscopic 3-D systems, which involve showing a viewer two slightly different 2-D images – one for the left eye and one for the right eye – that trick the viewer’s brain into fusing them into a single 3-D image.
Such systems only work with individual viewers, making them unsuitable for use when other people need to see the display as well.
Tested with car-makers and doctors
The COHERENT team’s system has been tested in the automotive industry and with medical researchers, both potentially large markets for collaborative 3-D technology and networked audiovisual communication.
Doctors, for example, could use the system to consult with specialists located in another city or even another country, allowing them to study jointly a 3-D representation of a patient’s heart.
Car manufacturers, meanwhile, could use the technology to assist the collaborative work between distributed teams of designers and engineers.
Large and growing market
As travel becomes more expensive and concerns about its environmental impact increase, many sectors of business and society are likely to turn to video conferencing as a way to overcome geographical barriers to collaboration.
The team behind COHERENT also foresees other applications for its technology, such as for next-generation 3-D TV, for digital cinema and for virtual reality representations.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call
Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project
G3 6RQ Glasgow