It may seem straight out of Star Wars, but the idea of holographic video conferencing solutions just took a giant step forward thanks to Microsoft Kinect sensors and a 360-degree display called the Telepod.

The system was developed by a research team at Human Media Lab of Canada’s Queen’s University led by professor Roel Vertegaal. In a press release from the university, the team described how the new system works. Using six Kinect sensors, a 3D projector, an acrylic cylinder and a convex mirror, all two people need to do is stand in front of their own pods and talk. Because of the cylinder screen, you can circumnavigate the pod to see a full 3D rendering of the person on the other end.

Vertegaal spoke of two applications he foresees for the new technology. The first is a business phone solution called TeleHuman, which is a high tech way of handling basic teleconferencing.

The other Vertegaal described as “revolutionary.” It’s called Bodipod and was designed for the medical industry. It creates an ‘interactive 3D anatomy model of the human body” where, with a simple hand gesture or voice command, users can peel off layers of tissue to reveal muscles, organs and bone or get deep x-ray views of the the heart or brain of the model on the other end. This could lead to patients in one country receiving diagnoses from a doctor in another.

There is no indication of cost or when this may be available in the business community as a next generation VoIP service, but it’s safe to assume businesses will not need to call their IT service to start asking for it quite yet.

The possibility of holographic video conferencing in the work place takes a giant step forward.

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