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Down the Road, But In the Works: 3-D Video Calls From Skype 97

Posted by timothy
from the via-second-life dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Skype is reportedly working on a 3D version of its messaging application. As reported by the BBC, an unnamed senior executive says that rumors to this effect are true. However, don't get too worked up about sending your avatar to school or to work just yet: Microsoft's corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle. ... We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market." Also at SlashBI.
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Down the Road, But In the Works: 3-D Video Calls From Skype

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  • by Threni (635302) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:36AM (#44706955)

    Why would I want 3D? I thought 3D was dead anyway - no-one wants it anywhere.

    Microsoft, trying to innovate. How embarrassing. Surely there's another company they can buy some kinect-like tech off to at least give the impression they have a clue about what's going on in the industry?

    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      You're not seeing the real objective. Think of movies and holograms. Very cool stuff. That's the objective for this technology. To some people there is value to this technology.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Movies and holograms?

        Like 3D movies don't already exist?

        Holograms aren't going to come from Skype, or Microsoft. You need an innovative company to get that to work on any kind of an acceptable scale.

        • by Ravaldy (2621787)

          Silly boy,

          Your lack of thinking is impressive to say the least.

          3D movies are rendered. Now, how do you take a live picture and make it 3D. That is what this technology does. Take the same tech and move it to holograms. MS won't develop the hologram technology, they will as usual provide software and services for the hardware.

          And saying MS isn't innovative is silly. You don't know half the stuff they're working on. It's like saying Ford isn't innovating because there are no flying cars... It's not because yo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463)

      Why would I want 3D?

      I am not sure if 3D is the answer, but we need more realistic immersive technology. We consume millions of barrels of oil every day to physically move people to the same location as other people, so they can interact and collaborate. Telecommuting with current technology just doesn't work well for most people. We need some sort of holodeck that allows people to be fully immersed in their work environment without being physically present.

      • by dj245 (732906) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @12:56PM (#44707745) Homepage

        Why would I want 3D?

        I am not sure if 3D is the answer, but we need more realistic immersive technology. We consume millions of barrels of oil every day to physically move people to the same location as other people, so they can interact and collaborate. Telecommuting with current technology just doesn't work well for most people. We need some sort of holodeck that allows people to be fully immersed in their work environment without being physically present.

        We need a system where I look at someone's image in the eye, and from their perspective they are looking at me in the eye. This is basically impossible to do with current technology. You can try to fake it in various ways, but the illusion is never perfect. Until this happens videoconferencing will always be an inferior means of communication.

        If someone could figure out how to embed cameras in a display panel, that would be the best solution. A stopgap solution is to have a very small camera on a small tripod and putting it directly infront of the other person's face on the screen, but this isn't a great solution.

        • If someone could figure out how to embed cameras in a display panel, that would be the best solution.

          Been there, patented that. [appleinsider.com]

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why not just hire locals?

        • Why not just hire locals?

          What do you mean by "local"? Most commutes are under 30 miles, and those commutes still consume a hundred million gallons of gasoline every day.

      • We need some sort of holodeck that allows people to be fully immersed in their work environment without being physically present.

        Management needs the holodeck to measure productivity by the level of discomfort on the slaves faces, its about the effort. The hardest working boss is always available to promote how hard he's working. Getting that image of "the hard working minions" to his boss is the biggest challenge. Show the boss your visible suffering and your most of the way to success in business.

        "Peter, You've been missing a lot of work lately."

  • FTFY (Score:5, Funny)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:41AM (#44707007)

    As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle. ... We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market."

    It requires laptop manufacturers to place two cheap webcams in the lid instead of one, and the appropriate software. We have it in the lab and would like to launch. We are currently in liaison with our armies of attorneys and MBAS to make sure that all our patents, copyrights and other vendor lock in is correctly set up to maximize corporate profit at the expense of consumer flexibility and satisfaction. Only one the attorneys are done will we bring the product to market.

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      It would also require an autostereoscopic screen unless you want to video chat with glasses.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I want to chat wearing an Oculus Rift so that folks on the other side think I'm with Daft Punk.

      • no, they are doing the shutter technique. Every other frame is left - right left - right. You just have to blink each eye 30x per second alternately.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          I can only manage about 8Hz. Maybe with electrodes at the right places, we could sync that up to the screen and speed it up.

    • Microsoft owns Skype, XBox and Kinect...one would imagine this would be the initial offering and selling point for xbone.
    • by godrik (1287354)

      Nintendo essentially already does that in the 3DS. I guess they just want more resolution using more cameras.

  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:41AM (#44707009)

    ...because 2D sexting is not enough for Anthony Weiner!

    "heh heh heh he said weiner" - Beavis

    --
    BMO - puerile enough for you!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    if you mistakenly send that 3D stream to your makerbot. the legal implications of making perfect clones of human beings have not been fully studied yet.

    That 3D printing is powerful stuff, be careful kids.

    You wouldn't want to be in jail when the Eschaton comes and we all move to Mars.

    • by bmo (77928)

      Immanentize the Eschaton? I'm busy trying to MONETIZE IT!

      --
      BMO

  • by sinij (911942) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:46AM (#44707061) Journal
    Skype can barely handle regular voice calls, why do you think it is up to the task for anything else?
    • Yeah - I'd be happier if they worked on ways to improve call quality even if the connection isn't the greatest.

      I don't use video too often as there are often issues.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      Really? What do you use then? I tried so many alternatives (tango, kakao talk, various SIP providers) and they are all so much worse than skype.

      • by sinij (911942)
        >>>Really? What do you use then?

        Traditional PSTN.
        • Traditional PSTN.

          Which in many cases is backhauled VOIP or compressed to the point of being as bad as Skype these days....the days of pure copper between you and the other party are pretty much dead...

          • by sinij (911942)
            >>>Which in many cases is backhauled VOIP

            Correct. >>>to the point of being as bad as Skype

            This does not match my experiences. My traditional land line that I use for business communications never has any voice quality issues.
    • yeah... 3D is cool but before they add features that eat up more bandwidth, they need to make voice actually work.

      As in, make it less laggy and full duplex so we can actually hold a conversation. Right now if I'm talking, the other party needs to stay absolutely quiet or they're not gonna hear anything I'm saying.

  • Ballmer fired.
    New CEO coming in a few months time.
    Share-holders are demanding sweeping changes across the board.
    MS's Skype division "Look at us, we're doing stuff. We're still relevant. Please don't axe us."

    • by bmo (77928)

      >Ballmer fired.

      People keep repeating this as if it was true.

      Ballmer has always had too much voting stock to be voted off as CEO. He was either going to retire or die, but being fired was not one of the options, ever.

      --
      BMO

      • >Ballmer fired.

        People keep repeating this as if it was true.

        Ballmer has always had too much voting stock to be voted off as CEO. He was either going to retire or die, but being fired was not one of the options, ever.

        -- BMO

        "Pressured" into getting out the f'n way, might be a better way of putting it then.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Yeah, it makes perfect sense to announce your retirement just after a major re-organization, when your successor is only going to reorganize everything again after you leave.

        Then again, I guess it does make about as much sense as Windows 8.

  • Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Greetings underling,

      Unfortunatelly (for you) Obi Wan Kenobi was fired together with those 90% of sysadms.

      Yours,
      NSA

      PS. In the interest of the percentage we require from your paid taxes, we strongly suggest you to upgrade your 3D camera set. The captured clips are of a terrible quality: the pale blue color and intermitent flickering currently requires 250% more CPU power for data extraction than the transmissions we capture from more conscious citizens

    • by JuzzFunky (796384)
      We have this working already using an Intel Perceptual camera on the Voxiebox. Here's a YouTube [youtube.com] clip of a recent demo.
  • Stereovision.

    There is a world of difference.

    3D would mean that one's real-space position would affect exactly what they see. It would also mean that one wouldn't have to wear glasses to perceive the depth. You would perceive different images in each eye, producing the appearance of depth, because your eyes are in different locations in space instead of because specific different images are being forced into them.

    • by Arkh89 (2870391)

      As if stereoscopy was the only to perceive depth clues... You forget about depth of focus, parallax motion, occultation, and cognitive processes, such as knowing the size of an object and its apparent size...

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Depth of focus caused by the eye lens isn't really used by the brain to detect distance actually. The most significant factors that contribute to sense of depth for near objects are the difference between left and right eye views and how convergent the eyes must be to look at an object (and the latter generally less so than the former), For objects beyond a few meters away, parallax motion and relative size to objects which appear near it and which have a known size are the primary cues.
    • by WarJolt (990309)

      Stereovision and RGB+depth(like the kinect) a similar limitations.
      You can only see the image from one viewing angle.

      RGB+depth with knowledge of a focal length of the lens can be used to construct a point cloud(RGB+XYZ) and potentially used to construct meshes.
      The point cloud can be rotated and zoomed because its a true 3d model, but 3d information will be missing for anything that is obscured by an object.
      For example you will not see the back of the head.
      Supporting true 3d streaming however would be neat if

    • by JuzzFunky (796384)
      I posted this link earlier in this thread, but for what it's worth, this is genuine Volumetric 3D that we have been working on: Voxiebox at Science Alive [youtube.com]
      • by bug_hunter (32923)

        It's cool to see you've even got a volumetric Princess Leia, the Turing test of 3D imagery.
        (also looks like it has useful applications, if you're into that sort of thing)

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @11:57AM (#44707159)

    Its going to use VP8 over H.264 too the reasons. " Chew says that VP8 will be able to deliver HD video to up to 10 people at a time, which is something H.264 couldn't handle. VP8 will also take up less bandwidth than H.264, allowing Hangouts to deliver better looking video at lower bit rates. And VP8 will also allow Google to begin transitioning Hangouts over to WebRTC, an emerging set of video and audio standards" http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/28/4668326/google-hangouts-getting-720p-hd-video-upgrade [theverge.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Great news for the 8 people that use G+ Hangouts...

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      How about hangouts not using far more processor than a 3d rendering? I can run skype on a older PC, Google hangouts takes a quad core i7 overclocked to 20ghz to run smoothly and not explode after 1 hour.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)

      Chew says that VP8 will be able to deliver HD video to up to 10 people at a time, which is something H.264 couldn't handle.

      What are you talking about? Neither VP8 nor H264 can handle that, because they're not fucking communications protocols. They're video codecs. Video codecs don't deliver anything to anyone. They just store video.

    • I tried the Google stuff for a day....then I uninstalled it because I didn't like the 8 billion ET-call-homes it did non-stop (even when not in use) that LittleSnitch told me it was doing...
  • by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @12:01PM (#44707195)

    >> vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there"

    Wow that was a bit of a slip. There is and its even a Microsoft product. Seems to me this is exactly the sort of thing Kinnect is useful for.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      >> vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there"

      Wow that was a bit of a slip. There is and its even a Microsoft product. Seems to me this is exactly the sort of thing Kinnect is useful for.

      Slip... yes (like in the Freudian one). But not the one you think... he meant that the capture device to plug Skype-3D into the PRISM is not yet ready.

  • it seems like this would be the perfect way for the NSA to get 3d models of your face for facial recognition and associating it to you is easy if pay for any skype services. from there they can pick you out of any video feeds they look at. this isnt paranoia, this is very possible. we already know they have full access to the system and this is just an incremental step..

    • by kanweg (771128)

      Plus, we want to know what you're hiding behind your body when you skype.

      NSA Bert

      (That's Nefarious Secret Agent Bert)

  • I would prefer 3D video calls from Makerbot...
  • Is there a big pent up market demand for 3D skype calls?

    Sounds like a problem in search of a solution to me ... because except for the obvious porn applications, would the average skype call be improved by being in 3D?

    Maybe I'm just missing something here, or not the target audience. I just don't see the value in this.

  • I really want to know who asked for this feature.

    • I really want to know who asked for this feature.

      Its a story concocted for the press / publicity. Reputation management stuff. Its does not exist, and may never well. Sounds like a nightmare to set up anyway. You'd probably have to hire a "computer scientist".

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Steve Ballmer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    before I start using skype again

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @01:28PM (#44708091)

    Because 3D is the next big thing in....oh wait everybody is pulling out of 3D content these days.

    Leave it to Microsoft to be way behind on current consumer trends.

  • Bloat (Score:4, Informative)

    by Loki_666 (824073) on Thursday August 29, 2013 @01:43PM (#44708297)

    Can the Skype team stop adding more and more crap to it, and start removing some of the existing bloat?

    I want an instant messenger, not something that takes minutes to load, minutes to fetch messages (many of which i already read on another comp or on my phone, but it still alerts me like they are new messages), and when finally loaded i get bombarded with ads that do not interest me in the slightest, or offers to connect Skype to Facebook and the like, something i already told it to go do something anatomically impossible about more than once.

    Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    • Can the Skype team stop adding more and more crap to it, and start removing some of the existing bloat?

      I want an instant messenger, not something that takes minutes to load, minutes to fetch messages (many of which i already read on another comp or on my phone, but it still alerts me like they are new messages), and when finally loaded i get bombarded with ads that do not interest me in the slightest, or offers to connect Skype to Facebook and the like, something i already told it to go do something anatomically impossible about more than once.

      Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
      Antoine de Saint-Exupery

      Umm, why not use something like Jitsi [jitsi.org] instead?

      Only thing is I'm still looking for a decent SIP video client for Android - Sipdroid is excellent for voice calls, but its video support is completely broken. :(

      • by Loki_666 (824073)

        Work requirement, that's why i'm stuck with Skype

        • Work requirement, that's why i'm stuck with Skype

          Can't understand why businesses have standardised on an insecure proprietary system (which, I might add, is absolute hell to deal with from a firewalling perspective), rather than the industry standard open system...

  • Making current 2D calls not suck first? Skype's video quality is ungodly sucky compared to real VC software.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Skype was great. It allowed you to customize privacy settings, set your own themes, colors, and use third party distros of the app. It didn't crash that often particularly if you're on unstable connection. But Microsoft came around, killed the android app so that it would break about 15x a day at least, the PC version became uglier than ever, features were removed, and the NSA got involved. I don't give two-cents about 3D support because they can't even get 2D to work without crashing at least once or twice

  • Given the customer response to 3-D movies, I'm unconvinced there will be a consumer market.

    Though in special cases, like remotely supervising surgery, it could be extremely valuable.

  • At least it is REAL 3D, and not scam that is in the theaters.

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