If reality were more like movies and music videos, we’d all have kicked back our chair, jumped up on the conference table and danced ourselves out of a meeting at least once in our lives. Sadly, however, I’ve never done it, and I don’t know anyone who has.
But then, we’ve never had live holographic video conferencing before. This is a technology seemingly purpose-built for throwing inhibitions to the wind. Using new technology created by a European firm claiming to have invented the first holographic meeting platform, people from different sides of the globe can put on virtual reality headsets and get together in a computer-generated 3D world. Its designers want to create a new form of video conferencing to shake up the way we conduct business.
Looking at their creation, however, it seems a far better (or at least more fun) idea to use this new toy to shake up our social lives.
Mimesys Holographic Video Conferencing
The company with the big idea is Mimesys, a Belgian group with a history of experimenting with holographic and augmented reality representations of the human body. Their new product, the Mimesys Connect, looks similar to the high profile Microsoft HoloLens, even if their videos aren’t nearly as polished.
The holographic video calls they’ve created rely on two primary pieces of equipment: a VR headset to immerse the holographic caller in their fabricated new world, and a digital scanner to capture a live projection of their bodies moving through real space. These two viewpoints get melded into one within the video call, and the meeting can take place at any computer-generated location the attendees deem suitable. As you can see from the clip, there are more than a few graphical kinks to be ironed out, and the user’s face is partially covered by their goggles, but it still seems like a promising start to building a holographic workplace.
Watching the demo video, though, you can’t help but think there’s a far more fun way to enjoy this technology.
Mimesys’ intentions for this tech are very serious and practical–as are those of the HoloLens for that matter. They want to make video calls and human-computer interaction more natural and immersive.
If you could meet anyone in the internet-connected world, however, and could take them to any place your imagination and computer graphics capabilities allowed, the last thing you’d want to do is talk shop.
So, instead, let’s repurpose this exciting piece of tech for a more social situation. Let’s go dancing!
If you and your dance partner both have the required equipment, and there’s enough space in front of your scanner to waltz, tango, or jitterbug, you could dance each other through the rainy streets of Paris this very night. The holograms don’t currently support physical contact–although other video calling pioneers are working on virtual touch–so it’s hard to totally recreate dancing cheek-to-cheek romance, but with some accompanying music picked up by the Connect’s microphones there’s still enough ambiance to get down.
It might make the Mimesys team cringe to think it, but imagine what holographic video conferencing could do for online dating.
Online Dating with Video Conferencing
Other advances in video conferencing can already take online dating well beyond a few getting-to-know-you texts. Shared live streaming apps like Airtime allow people to watch concerts, movies, YouTube clips, and more within a video call. And background alteration or cropping apps can help online daters keep their exact locations a secret until a relationship blossoms into a little more trust.
Neither of those, however, can let you hit the dance floor on a first date without fear of anyone’s toes being stomped. But with a holographic video conferencing platform, an online couple could each put on their VR headsets, clear out their kitchens, and dance together in an otherwise impossible mix of intimacy and safety–if only Mimesys would produce a clear headset that allowed the dancers to stare into each other’s eyes.
Of course, there are plenty of other non-dating related applications for this technology as well. Any physical training or instruction–yoga, martial arts, ballet, acting–could become more immersive and take place between people miles apart from each other. If the computer graphics were faithful enough, the holograms could be used to train employees in emergency situations, or let young engineers practice repairs on life-sized equipment.
Just this once, let’s think about how video conferencing technology can be used outside the meeting room.