Berkeley tele-immersion lab developing 3D video conferencing
New tele-immersive technologies could be the future of video conferencing. The technology allows users to share a 3D environment with other individuals from a remote location. SmartPlanet talks to University of California at Berkeley's Gregorij Kurillo about how the system is being used to create virtual spaces for users to interact and manipulate 3D objects.
>> Sumi Das: At UC Berkeley, in the school's tele-immersion laboratory, researcher Gregorij Kurillo wants to reinvent video conferencing from 2-D static environments to 3-D virtual spaces where you are part of the conference.
>> Gregorij Kurillo: Traditional web conferencing has several problems. One is that it's very hard to establish the eye contact with the person. And we still have a problem that we are not actually interacting in a 3-D environment.
>> Sumi Das: Kurillo's idea is to use tele-immersive technologies, where people can better communicate and interact with 3-D objects in the virtual world.
>> Gregorij Kurillo: You can imagine two designers meeting in the virtual space, and they can do a walk through through a building that they're just designing.
>> Sumi Das: To demonstrate the technology, Kurillo has constructed a 12 by 12-foot cage outfitted with 48 cameras. The cameras record a three dimensional image of the user in real time.
>> Gregorij Kurillo: It's a setup that has a lot of these camera clusters, which are basically stairway cameras that do the stairway construction from different points of view. So from each point of view, you're getting a 3-D mesh, and because the cameras are calibrated, which means that we know they're position and orientation, we can reconstruct the full 3-D body in the virtual space.
>> Sumi Das: The person's 3-D image is then sent via the Internet to another user. The technology is still in the early stages of development. As you can see, the transmitted video is jittery. That's because Kurillo is using low computing power to record the images. And the technology setup, with 48 cameras, is not conducive for a simple web conference.
>> Gregorij Kurillo: We have been investigating of trying to reduce the number of cameras and see what is really the minimum setup that a person can use and still get a good experience.
>> Sumi Das: Still, Kurillo has high hopes for the technology, and in the future, he believes it could be used to teach movement from a remote location.
>> Gregorij Kurillo: You can have a remote dance instructor teaching you how to dance, or you can have, in the case of medical application, you can have a remote therapist helping patients to learn the movements they should be doing by themselves.
>> Sumi Das: For Smart Planet, I'm Sumi Das.
==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ====