Will Microsoft’s Holoportation replace FaceTime and allow you to teleport anywhere?

FaceTime, Skype, Loom, and the various other video-chat apps have been critical pieces of technology for connecting with friends and having more meaningful professional conversations. Honestly, I have more face-to-face meetings on Loom in a day than I have physical interactions.

However, what’s the evolution of video conferencing apps? Are we even in need of an evolution?

There is, in fact, an evolution, called Holoportation, and after you see it you’ll definitely want it. Microsoft made the concept of holoportation very compelling two years ago in this video. Basically, holoportation takes the best part of video communication (which is being able to talk face-to-face with someone across the globe) and adds in a pseudo-element of physical connection we love.

Holoportation allows you to teleport a real-time, 3D hologram of your body for a conversation anywhere. Believe it or not, it’s practical and useful across a variety of settings.

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Holoportation in Healthcare.

Back in 1993, a research paper titled, A Vision of Telepresence for Medical Consultation and Other Applications imagined holoportation as a means for doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals to remotely weigh-in on medical diagnoses and treatments. Long before we had video-chat apps like Skype, Henry Fuchs and Ulrich Neumann envisioned an apparatus consisting of dozens of fixed cameras above an operating table, which would tether all the camera feeds together into a 3D hologram that a doctor anywhere in the world could tune into and lend a second set of eyes during surgery.

Although this early application of holoportation technology would be unsuccessful at creating a real-time, 3D hologram for medical purposes, it laid the groundwork for possibility.

Nearly 25 years later, with commercial augmented reality glasses in full-swing, an AR company called Aetho would build upon the vision of Henry Fuchs. Using an application called Thrive on the HoloLens, doctors from three different continents met in a physical operating room to discuss a patient’s diagnosis and further medical treatment. So instead of digitizing the human patient, they digitized the physicians. You can see the video below:

Along the same vein, we’re seeing how this could be used for communication between patients and their doctors. Silver Chain Group, in this video, unveiled an application for the HoloLens which essentially reinvigorates the ability for doctors and nurses to make house calls and easily access data on the patient.

I can see this being particularly useful for patient assessment from remote specialist doctors. Incredible health systems like Mayo Clinic often have the best resources to treat rare diagnoses. People that want the best care travel there just for a meeting. Holoportation could make this process a lot simpler.

The third notable use case of holoportation in healthcare is for the purposes of teaching. Anima Res developed a mixed reality application called Insight Heart, which makes it possible to visualize the heart in its natural state and see conditions that one would not be able to present in a textbook or that are rarely encountered in reality. In a way, they’re transporting potentially hundreds of students directly into the operating room without getting in the way or being confined to watching a 2D television screen or textbook.

Overall, given that 77% of the US population has a smartphone, telemedicine has allowed patients to use their smartphones to meet with their physician. However, as the market penetration of AR glasses increases, I see telemedicine evolving alongside holoportation technology.

Holoportation for Business.

Pop culture has given us some of the clearest visions of what holoportation could one day look like. In the context of popular films, holoportation has been used to facilitate meetings between high profile people. For instance, in many of the Star Wars movies when the situation calls for a meeting of the minds, members of the Jedi High Council holoport to a meeting ground to make crucial decisions:


Similarly, this happens in the movie Kingsman:


In my opinion, facilitating professional meetings is one of the clearest and most practical directions for holoportation to take. Leading the charge in this domain is an AR company called Spatial, who specializes in turning the workspace around us into collaborative augmented space. They are by far the most compelling company to spearhead this type of interaction:

More than five times a month, I travel to meet with clients and potential business because I know that face-to-face interaction goes very far in making deals happen. Although I don’t think I’d holoport anywhere for a first time meeting, subsequent meetings could definitely take place this way while still feeling as though I got a form of in-person interaction.

In the long-term, I’m extremely bullish on what holoportation and other AR technology can bring us. The competition between Magic Leap and HoloLens is going to push this technology further into the consumer mainstream.

Running at a price tag of $3,500, HoloLens is focusing on creating a lot of professional experiences. Magic Leap just launched the first cohort of their Independent Creators Program – which awards developer grants between $20k and $500k to build out their ecosystem of experiences. We’ve also got Bose pioneering audio-only augmented reality and North’s consumer-friendly AR smart glasses.

Augmented Reality is a long-awaited technology that is beginning to get exciting again. I, for one, am in it for the holoportation.