It may sound like the science fiction of Star Trek or Star Wars, but this is exactly what a team of researchers at Queen’s University have developed in the Human Media Lab. Grandly dubbed TeleHuman, the life-size cylindrical pod allows users to conduct real-time, 3-D and 360-degree video conferences.
It’s not quite a holodeck, but it’s a whole lot closer than today’s 2-D video-chatting options like Skype or FaceTime. (To see the system in action, check out the video below.)
“It’s all about social proximity cues. You can walk up to a person instead of having to phone them or go through an interface,” Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab and Professor of human-computer interaction, told Wired. “Instead, there’s just this pod. It might be designated for a lover or a business partner. It’s near the water cooler, and the same thing is in his or her office or home. You walk up, the thing starts to glow and boom — beam me up, Scotty.”