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Summary:

Bad hair days on video chats are a thing of the past with NTT Docomo’s hands-free video phone. Of course, a hat is a lighter solution because this heavy headgear has multiple cameras to render you as a finely detailed, and possibly better looking, avatar.

NTT Docomo handsfree video phone

Mobile video chatting is great, provided you have a free hand to hold your smartphone or tablet. So what might a hands-free video phone look like? For now, it would be big and bulky, but it could work. Take a peek at this prototype that DigInfo noticed: It’s created by NTT DoCoMo and uses multiple cameras to capture most of your facial movements and any scenery behind you.

Unlike traditional video chat services of today, this system renders you as a realistic looking avatar. While that seems like a step backward, I can think of a number of instances where I’d welcome it: An early morning video chat while still in bed or on a bad hair day, for example. (My solution for the latter is a hat, but now that’s a tell-tale sign of bad hair at GigaOM HQ!)

The large headgear certainly isn’t practical, but as a prototype, I see some interesting technology here. Capturing one’s face in 720p resolution with 180-degree fish-eye lenses, adjusting the actual images to compensate for the wide view and stitching the images together in real-time is impressive. The level of captured detail and subsequent rendering is nifty as well: Take a look at the avatar’s eyes when the real person blinks, for example.

Even as an early tech adopter, I realize this solution is more of a demonstration for now. Perhaps Google will take note, however, and adopt some of DoCoMo’s concept with the Project Glass headgear. Until then, I’ll rely on “old school” video calls. Now, where did I put my hat?

  1. Revolution Video Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    I think we’ve all had times where we prefer to be an avatar rather than ourselves on a video chat. It will be interesting to see where this product goes.

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