Skype VP confirms that 3D video calls are part of its future plans

29 Aug 2013

Microsoft’s corporate vice-president for Skype Mark Gillett has confirmed the company is working on bringing 3D video calls to its users, though he doesn’t believe this will arrive in the near future.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC to mark Skype’s 10th anniversary, Gillett said, “We’ve done work in the labs looking at the capability of 3D screens and 3D capture.”

Gillett went on to explain that displaying a 3D image is not the biggest part of the problem, as 3D screens have become more commonplace in TVs, computer monitors and even hand-held games consoles. However, capturing 3D images isn’t so easy.

Future Human

“The capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology we have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle,” he said.

Gillett further detailed how far along development has come in that the technology works but they are now looking at a device ecosystem to support it. However, while he foresees a day where smartphone screens offer 3D images without the need for specialist glasses, he thinks the day where we have 3D cameras built into smartphones is further away.

“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,” he said, putting to bed any theory that Skype will be launching this technology in the short-term.

In fact, it could be years before 3D video calls from Skype see commercial deployment.

Gillett also revealed that plans are the works to bring 1080 super-HD video call resolution to more devices. This high quality video calling format is coming to Xbox One but it may also see light of day on laptops and tablets soon after.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic