Videoconferencing going 3D: No special glasses required

University researchers thousands of miles apart are testing the latest in videoconferencing: A system that uses clusters of 3D cameras to enable users to see each other from all angles.

This Tele-immersive Environments for Everybody (TEEVE) technology is seen by the researchers as having applications that involve physical movement, such as teaching dance or performing medical treatments.

In testing being run by the schools this spring involving a dance instructor and student, traffic is traveling over Internet2. The distributed, multitier TEEVE application captures images using the 3D cameras, then compresses and decompresses video streams so they can be displayed on large screens on each end.

The researchers are working to deliver the tele-immersive videoconferencing across relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf products exploiting multicore processors and other such technologies. Still, they say it will be five to six years before TEEVE and other such tele-immersive applications become mainstream. 2D videoconferencing systems have been available for years, but only in the past few years have the systems really begun to be embraced, says Klara Nahrstedt, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More information is available at http://cairo.cs.uiuc.edu/publications/paper-files/TEEVE.pdf.

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