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Skype has confirmed it is developing 3D video calls – but said it could be many years before we can use the technology.
The Microsoft-owned internet telephony firm revealed it is experimenting with 3D video calls on its 10th anniversary.
In an interview with the BBC, Mircrosoft’s corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, said: “We’ve done work in the labs looking at the capability of 3D-screens and 3D-capture.
“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 joined Skype in 2010 ahead of its $8.5bn takeover by Microsoft, said currently “you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle” to make 3D video calls possible.
But he added: “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.”
There are an estimated 1.5 million owners of televisions able to play 3D in the UK. But the availability on the BBC of flagship events, including Wimbledon and the Queen’s Christmas message, has not been met with huge takeup. Both the BBC and Disney recently announced that they are putting their 3D experimentations on hold.
Gillet said that 3D video chats would take longer to catch on than other services, such as television and film.
“I can imagine a day when you have a 3D-cellphone screen that doesn’t need 3D-glasses to use it,” he said. “It’s less clear to me that we’re close to having 3D cameras on cellphones.
“We’re in the first year of your TV at home potentially having a camera attached to it, but we’re several years away from the cameras capturing 3D in that context.
“You’ll see much more penetration of 3D on TVs, on computers and ultimately in smartphones, probably, ahead of seeing it for sending a video call.”