Transatlantic telepresence demo claims first

A public demonstration of a high-definition interactive 3D telepresence system between the InfoComm09 conference in Florida, and studios in the UK and Canada, is being claimed as an industry first.

Based on Musion’s Eyeliner system, and broadcast across Masergy high-speed network connections, a three-day programme of live, interactive holograms were transmitted via HaiVision transmission codecs. InfoComm09 audiences were able to ask questions and interact with the projected 3D figures as they were projected into the specially set-up conference room at the Orange County Convention Centre. Other activities include a daily streaming House of Worship service from Pastor Erik Pattison, and a live holographic auction hosted in London with bidders in Orlando.

Musion’s Eyeliner system captured images in London and Montreal using standard HDTV cameras at 50fps interlaced. At the audience end these are projected onto a ‘foil’ that reproduces a two-dimensional image which the viewer is optically ‘fooled’ into seeing as a 3D image. The InfoComm09 demonstration also used display projection and image optimisation technology by Christie Digital Systems.

Eyeliner offers several advantages over other telepresence systems, says Musion director James Rock, such as its bandwidth-to-output ratio: “Typically, we are able to get a 5mx5m wide display picture using only around 6Mbps of signal space. This results in massive bandwidth savings compared to other telepresence products. It also means that over a 10Mbps link we can devote the remaining bandwidth to concurrent video effects such as pre-recorded animation or PowerPoint presentations.”

The fact that Eyeliner online captures individual figures within a vision field, rather than the entire content of a given view, reduces the amount of data that is transmitted, and ensures that latency threshold can be maintained across long distances. “Latency has been a snag with other telepresence systems, because vast amounts of data take time to travel back and forth across even high-bandwidth circuits,” adds Musion co-director Ian O’Connell.  “Eyeliner beams the person, not the background. The success of our system lies in the fact that you don’t need to transmit background for effective telepresence sessions.”

Potential applications for the Eyeliner package are many and varied, says Masergy senior VP, business development, John Dumbleton: “This is a tool for trade show and retail displays, keynote speeches, visitor attractions, lecturers, courtroom witnesses, preachers, musicians, comedians and other forms of entertainment - especially those events that require a two-way communication between the speaker and audience.”

Holographical conferencing could also be used in contexts as diverse as political rallies, where a party leader could address groups of supporters based at multiple auditoria, to the performing arts, where musicians or actors could rehearse remotely without having to come together prior to a concert or movie shoot, Dumbleton adds.


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