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NTT Docomo are currently developing a 3D Live Communication System and have presented it as a possible next step beyond regular video calls.

During the conversation, words take the form of images in the virtual space shared by the users, enhancing the feeling that even though the users may be physically far away from each other, they are in a shared space. This virtual space is composed in the Docomo network cloud and streamed directly to each users device.

“One feature of this system is speech recognition technology. This extracts characteristic keywords from the spoken words, and embodies them as objects.”

“Another feature is spatial recognition technology, which tracks 360° videos or 3D objects as if you’re actually looking at them. So if you look in from above, the object appears as seen from above, and if you look in sideways, the object appears as seen from the side.”

AR markers are used, with the conversation partners positions fixed, and by changing the orientation of the tablet they can explore the virtual space. In the current technology demonstration, experiences based on certain content keywords have been created, so users can be transformed into certain animals, or they can warp to other virtual environments such as a theme park or the surface of the moon. Within these virtual environments, information can also be presented, and the users can discuss the information being shared.

“Currently, the system needs a special range-imaging camera to make people appear in the space. But it isn’t necessary to put people in the space, so for example, if you just want to see a CG background, or share a travel video, we could provide this using just a tablet.”

“Here, we’re just exhibiting a prototype of this technology. Regarding services actual customers could use, we’re still thinking about those, so we haven’t decided our timeline yet.”

Posted by Don Kennedy and