A recent job listing on the Microsoft site suggests the company is working on a futuristic way of teleconferencing.
The posting states a “groundbreaking new technology platform” will impact how people "look, express themselves, and connect”.
A team is being put together that "will revolutionise communications and touch millions of customers around the world".
The advert says “In the short term, we are developing the hardware and software necessary to have a realistic physical “body-double” or proxy in a remote meeting – one that gives the remote worker a true seat at the table, the ability to look around the room, turn to a colleague and have a side conversation. Longer-term, this same platform will enable high-definition communication scenarios for consumers over Skype."
It’s likely to be related to Microsoft Research’s Viewport project – a fully distributed system for immersive teleconferencing where each participant at each site is captured by a camera rig, which contains multiple colour and infrared cameras and multiple infrared projectors. The projected infrared dot pattern is used to help reconstruct a 3D representation in real-time, which will be rendered in a shared virtual environment for immersive telecommunication.
In the paper they introduce the scheme of virtual seating, where the point clouds are positioned to maintain the same seating geometry as face-to-face meetings after careful calibration, such that the mutual gaze between participants are faithfully maintained.
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