Valorem’s HoloLens project HoloBeam is a chat app for the future

Brad Jones
Digital Trends
Valorem’s HoloLens project HoloBeam is a chat app for the future
A decade ago, clean video calling via Skype was a quantum leap for digital communication -- HoloBeam is the next step, using Microsoft's HoloLens hardware to bring your contacts directly into your living room.

In March, Microsoft started shipping HoloLens development kits, and now we’re starting to see some of the first projects developed with the hardware’s unique capabilities in mind. Last week, the Kansas City, Missouri-based Valorem released a video of an impressive chat app called HoloBeam.

HoloBeam uses a stereoscopic camera to capture a 3D image of a person and beam it into someone else’s home via the HoloLens headset. It’s somewhere between Skype and the hologram-based communication system Emperor Palpatine uses in The Empire Strikes Back.

While wearing the headset, you’ll see the person that you’re chatting with in your environment as a hologram. The footage released by Valorem is really quite remarkable, depicting two people having a conversation in the same room, despite the fact that one is in Germany and the other is in the United States.

Related: Microsoft opens the HoloLens doors to developers, companies outside U.S., Canada

The app apparently features support for two-handed gestures, to make it easy to enter and exit conversations without needing to use an input device. Users can even get up and walk around in a 120-degree viewing angle before the image becomes distorted, according to a report from WinBeta.

However, there are some drawbacks to the way that the technology is implemented. Crucially, a stereoscopic camera is required to beam your image to another user — between the camera itself and the HoloLens headset, setting up a two-way conversation could end up being prohibitively expensive.

Despite the associated costs, it’s easy to see how HoloBeam could sell users on the abilities of HoloLens. This is the sort of futuristic implementation of technology that can encourage consumers to buy into a new type of device. It’s something that simply cannot be done without advance augmented reality hardware.

Valorem hopes to launch a tech preview of HoloBeam sooner rather than later, but there’s currently no set date on when HoloLens owners can try out the app for themselves.