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Google looking into 3D video conferencing from mobile devices

The US Patent and Trademark Office has published an application by Google for a stereoscopic setup in a notebook computer (or other mobile device) that enables 3D video conferencing. Other possibilities are likewise explored, such as multi-party sharing of a single notebook for conferencing.
August 20, 2012
3D video conferencing from notebook computers (Image credit: Patent Bolt).

Video conferencing is an enabling technology for both enterprise and consumer markets. For professionals, video conferencing makes telecommuting more convenient — you can hold meetings with people across states or continents. For the regular mobile user, it’s a great way to talk to friends and loved ones.

But even with Facetime, Skype, Google Talk and a host of other products that provide video chatting services out there, these are still limited to talking to someone on-screen. There’s something different in actually seeing and experiencing another person face-to-face. Here’s where 3D facilities like HP’s SkyRoom. These conference rooms can make it look like you’re actually talking face to face with the persons at the other end.

Of course, these are expensive, and businesses pay dearly for 3D technologies like this. But with a new technology that Google is trying to patent, even portable devices like notebook computers might soon come with stereoscopic cameras.

But there’s more. Having a stereoscopic setup means you have two cameras that take a single image from different perspectives. This could also be used to take images of two different subjects.

The possibilities would include video-conferencing with two local people involved. Two participants could be made to appear they are sitting side-by-side, even if they are only using one notebook computer, and even if they’re sitting across each other. This can be particularly useful for multi-party video conferencing when there is only one device on one end.

There are a multitude of possibilities here, and you can check out the explanation from Patent Bolt. The idea basically takes advantage of having more than one camera and using these to either transmit a stereoscopic image (if the receiving party has compatible technology), or capture two different images simultaneously.

Google already thinks that front-facing cameras are of better use than rear-facing ones, especially on tablet computers like the Nexus 7. If this patent were to be granted, will we soon see 3D-enabled Android tablets or smartphones in the future?