Skype is developing a way to make 3D video calls over the internet, but admits that it could be many years before users get to try the new service.
Skype says 3D video calls are possible, but the technology is still years from launching to the public. (Reuters)
Confirmed on the video-calling service's 10th birthday, the Microsoft-owned company said it is currently developing a way to make and receive 3D video calls; in an interview with the BBC, Skype's corporate vice president Mark Gillett said the process is possible but difficult to replicate outside of a lab.
"We've seen a lot of progress in screens and a lot of people now by TVs and computer monitors that are capable of delivering a 3D image," Gillett said. "But the capture devices are not yet there."
Gillett said to make 3D calls possible "you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle...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."
A number of manufacturers produce cameras capable of shooting 3D images and video, but they haven't yet become a mainstream success,and the technology still requires the viewer to wear special glasses, which would also be needed by anyone viewing a three dimensional Skype call.
There are an estimated 1.5 million owners of 3D televisions in the UK, which can be used to watch 3D Blu-ray films and television from special channels such as Sky 3D; special events like Wimbledon and the Queen's Christmas message have been broadcast in 3D by the BBC, but uptake has been slow and the broadcaster recently announced it is putting its 3D experimentation on hold.
Gillett added: "I can imagine a day when you have a 3D cell phone screen that doesn't need 3D glasses to use it. It's less clear to me that we're close to having 3D cameras on cell phones. 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."
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