What The Heck Is Holoportation? It’s Not Sci-Fi. It’s Real!

This is not Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi movie. This is Microsoft HoloLens’s KICK-ASS feature called “holoportation”.

You’re working abroad. After 8-hour exhausting work, you just want to talk to your 3-year old daughter who is 9000 kilometers away.

You call her.

Within a minute, she is running around you telling you about her day at school.

“Holoportation” is a project developed by the Microsoft Research Interactive 3D Technologies (I3D) team. First being introduced on March 2016, everyone was then thrilled by the possibility of materializing the well-known scene from Star Wars.

This is where it began…

“I invite you to experience, for the first time anywhere in the world, here on the TED stage, a real-life holographic teleportation, between me and my friend, Dr. Jeffrey Norris, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”


At 10:50 minutes in this TED talk, Alex Kipman, inventor of the HoloLens, wow the audience with the first-ever holoportation demo.

How does holoportation actually work?

Let me explain to you how this heady hologram technology works!

Take the beginning scene of this article as an example. Your daughter has to be surrounded by a massive series of 3D-capture cameras. Those cameras first track every detailed viewpoint of your body and movements in order to let the system stitches them into a 3D model. Then, the data is compressed and transported to a receiving headset. In this case, that is your HoloLens.

Put on your HoloLens. An ultra-realistic figure of your daughter can interact with you as if she were in the same room. Even more amazing, all the holoportation session can be recorded. You can have a playback and let those beautiful memories come to life again. You can also shrink those figures down, displaying them on your coffee table.

“It’s almost like walking into a living memory, that I can see from all these different perspectives,” Shahram Izadi, Microsoft Research’s principal research manager said in the demo video.

However, there’re some technical difficulties in holoportation…

The holoportation process is not as simple as it looks like. There is an incredibly huge amount of data needs to be transferred. And for the most part, the video codecs don’t have a good quality for 3D streaming. Compressing the data from gigabytes to megabytes can be quite troublesome without powerful hardware. If only we could make this process easier, holoportation can really become a part of our daily lives.

You may also be wondering: how about the furniture? It’s creepy to see if people walk through my couch. Even if they are just holograms. Don’t worry. The Microsoft Research team has already come up with a solution: eventually, the users can choose which items they want to holoport. By doing so, the whole holoportation experience can be smoothly continuous with two spaces align with each other perfectly.

For example, you are enjoying a nice long chat with your parents. Unless you want them to float in the air, holoport them with the chairs they’re sitting on.

How holoportation be the future of remote communication?

We’re used to communicate with far, far away family members, friends, or colleagues through skype chat and video call. In the foreseeable future, holoportation may replace them with a more intimate interaction.

Firstly, it can be a cure for homesickness.

Secondly, remote working is becoming more and more trendy these days. Instead of conference calling, companies who utilize holoportation can have a more harmonious, efficient, and nearly face-to-face meeting.

Conference calling may lead to conflicts or misunderstanding due to missing out on other people’s important body language.

“It could fundamentally change the way people work or communication in the future.” Izadi said.

Global business can even save tons of budgets on traveling. According to the Annual Global Report & Forecast from GBTA, “Global business travel spending will hit a record $1.25 trillion USD in 2015, 6.5 percent growth over 2014. Growth will remain strong through 2019, with business travel projected to grow 6.9 percent in 2016, 6.0 percent in 2017, 6.4 percent in 2018 and 5.8 percent in 2019.”

Sooner or later, holoportation is going to be less costly than flying across half of the Earth.

Get ready to be holoported!

“Imagine being able to teleport to any place, with anyone, at any time,” said Izadi. “That’s what holoportation is all about!”

For now, holoportation is still unable to replicate the perfect features of your special someone. (In the demo video, you can see the irregularly edges of the figure) But it’s hard not to be excited about where holoportation can take us to!

Viscopic is one of the first selected companies in Europe that not only owns Microsoft HoloLens devices, but also has the technological expertise to implement augmented reality on field service and industrial maintenance projects.

Right now we are running a HoloLens Workshop that gives you the unique opportunity to be inspired by this thrilling technology. Discuss possible AR applications for your company with us and take advantage of our expertise!


Originally published at viscopic.com on August 29, 2016.