3D Video Calling Technology May Be Coming To Skype
August 29, 2013

3D Video Calling Technology May Be Coming To Skype

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

While 3D as a format for movies and TV is mostly flat, marketing-wise, with sales of sets failing to gain steam and actually fewer movies being produced in the next-gen format, it could live on in voice Over IP video.

Microsoft-owned Skype on Thursday announced that it is developing the technology to make 3D video calls a reality – but admitted that it could take years before users can expect to see friends and colleagues in life-like 3D.

In an interview with the BBC's Leo Kelion this week, Skype Vice President Mark Gillett said that the popular video chat and instant-messaging service does have the potential to support 3D conversations.

“We’ve done work in the labs looking at the capability of 3D-screens and 3D-capture,” Gillett told Kelion. “We've seen a lot of progress in screens and a lot of people now buy TVs and computer monitors that are capable of delivering a 3D image. But the capture devices are not yet there.”

Gillett, who had joined Skype in 2010, prior to its $8.5 billion takeover by tech giant Microsoft, noted that one of the challenges is in the current camera technology. For this to work, a computer would need multiple cameras that are precisely calibrated and pointed at the right angle to capture the subject.

“We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market,” Gillett added.

In addition both users of this technology would need to have computer monitors that are capable of delivering a 3D image. It is also unclear whether glasses would be required, although there have been recent efforts by several companies, including Stream TV Networks to deliver 3D without the need for such glasses.

3D has been in a recent retreat, with the BBC and Disney’s ESPN both announcing that they are putting their respective 3D projects on hold. The BBC has shuttered its 3D channels in the UK due to poor user demand.

Yet 3D is not the only technological advances Microsoft is currently exploring with the VoIP service. Microsoft  is also looking at options that would bring 1080p resolution video calls to various devices including its upcoming Xbox One video game console.

Gillett did not rule out the possibility that Skype might see integration on Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 game console, which will also ship this fall.

“We’ve worked with Sony for a long time," he noted. “Skype ships today on the PlayStation Portable amongst other cross-platform devices that we deliver to, and for the last few years we've also been shipping versions of Skype that run on Sony TVs.”

Earlier this month Microsoft also introduced the option for Microsoft Outlook users to be able to use Skype from their inbox. When a Skype account is merged with an Outlook.com email account the users need only to install a plug-in for Internet Explorer, Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox browser to place a video directly through the inbox. The browser based Skype video chat for Outlook.com arrived this past spring.

However, the instant messaging feature of Skype will not require the special plug-in.