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Skype: Camera technology is holding back 3D video chats

Skype's working on 3D video technology, but today's smartphones and webcams just aren't equipped to make the dream a reality.

If the world someday decides that it wants 3D video chat, Skype will be ready.

Microsoft's corporate vice president for Skype, Mark Gillett, told the BBC that the company has worked on 3D video calling in its labs.

"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," Gillett said, in a BBC interview commemorating Skype's 10th anniversary.

As interesting as 3D video chat sounds, the odds of it getting out of the lab are slim, given that consumers don't seem to care much about 3D. On televisions, 3D has been a flop, particularly in the United States, and the need for 3D glasses is a non-starter for video chat. While some phone and tablet makers have attempted glasses-free 3D over the years, these devices haven't gained any traction. (Nintendo, in fact, just announced the 2DS, a 2D version of its handheld game console, after admitting that 3D isn't as exciting as the company expected.)

Even if 3D screens were more popular, Gillett pointed out that the lack of 3D cameras in phones, tablets, and laptops is a major roadblock. "As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle," Gillett said.

And for what purpose? It's not clear why people would want to have 3D video chats to begin with. While chatting with a 3D image may seem slightly more realistic, chances are it would be more of a novelty than an essential technology--much like 3D itself.

Let me know when Skype perfects holographic video chat instead.

Image via Matt Neale/Flickr


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