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Microsoft's HoloLens might allow you to travel without ever moving

Holographic headset could allow for virtual travel.

hololens fragments

Microsoft's Fragments for the HoloLens games puts virtual suspects right next to you on the couch.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has gained incredible mindshare for its HoloLens virtual reality headset, which is all the more remarkable since it's pretty much been vaporware. However, development continues at quite a pace, and one of the more incredible ideas to sprout up is "holoportation."

Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology from the brainiacs at Microsoft Research. It uses a network of 3D cameras surrounding the subject to take a full 3D image and then transmit that image to anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

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When combined with mixed reality displays such as HoloLens, this technology allows users to see, hear, and interact with a remote participant in 3D form as though it were face-to-face communication. The concept is laid out in this video.

As the video shows, the technology is still in its early stages and fairly primitive, especially the rendering of the people. But that's to be expected. HoloLens still isn't out, after all, while Oculus Rift began shipping on March 28. And the real question is whether this will be a HoloLens-only application or if Microsoft will make it work on the many other headsets coming from Samsung, HTC and others.

One thing is for sure, Microsoft Research won't be diddling around with this product. As I wrote about earlier this year, CEO Satya Nadella has lit a fire under those guys to produce products a little faster. The researchers in Microsoft Research have always had the luxury of being able to work at their own pace and not be concerned with shipping dates.

Well, they had grown a little too lax and were letting good ideas languish. Nadella sought to change that, and did. The first product was Skype Translator, the real-time language translation feature in the Skype messenger.

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