Microsoft shows off new ‘holoportation’ tech

Microsoft showed off its new “holoportation” technology at its  Microsoft Ignite 2021 Keynote earlier this month.

The technology combines avatars and augmented and virtual reality to allow people to virtually “teleport” themselves to meetings. For better immersion in digital worlds, holoportation allows a user to use a full digital 3D version of their own entire body and form as an avatar for total resemblance in digital worlds, instead of using past avatars that do not resemble the users in body and form.

And the presenter of the technology actually used holoportation to give his talk on the Ignite conference virtual stage. Alex Kipman, technical fellow for Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality in the Cloud and AI Group at Microsoft, said that the technology will enhance work, event, learning, scientific, and travel-based collaborations.

“The key benefit of mixed reality has always been the ability to represent self across both space and time,” said Kipman in his keynote address. “You can walk in a manufacturing facility with someone. Even if I am not there, I can be in an operating room with someone, so that we can then have the same physical feeling of presence.”

Educators or remote maintenance experts, for example, can use holograms to share knowledge.

Microsoft has also put a holographic lab on the Ocean X research vessel. Scientists on board the ship can use the HoleLens headset to see what is happening underwater. And scientists onshore can teleport in to collaborate on their own research projects.

The new virtual collaboration platform is called Microsoft Mesh. It has already been integrated into Altspace, a virtual reality platform that Microsoft purchased in 2017. Microsoft announced it will also integrate Mesh with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Mesh will allow geographically distributed teams to meet and collaborate in shared mixed reality sessions where participants appear as digital representations of themselves. (Image courtesy Microsoft.)

Guy Laliberté, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil — a shows and tickets discovery platform — also attended the conference via holoportation.

Laliberté announced at the event that he will be using Microsoft Mesh to build Hanai World, a new social mixed reality platform for creators and communities, so that, for example, people attend one same event digitally and virtually at the same time.

“Human connections are at the center of Hanai World as they are and they should be at the center of our lives,” he said. “I have travelled the world and one thing is the same in every part of it — people want to interact with one another, to share and connect.”

(Image courtesy Hanai World.)

The Mesh runs on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. The cloud approach will help accelerate creativity, said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“We believe the next decade will require technology advances that radically democratizes creation,” he said at the event. “We will need to expand access to skills, tools and platforms as well as connections and collaborations across communities so that everyone can create.”