Lightbee: Design and Implementation of a Self-Levitating Light Field Display for Telepresence
Communication between humans is not limited to the spoken word. We use a number of non-verbal cues such as facial expression, eye contact, body orientation and movement, among others. Research on display technology has made it possible to provide a convincing reconstruction of facial—and sometimes body—features preserving eye contact between local and remote users in telecommunication. A variety of light field displays have been developed to support eye contact in one-to-many teleconferencing scenarios. Unfortunately, most of these systems focus exclusively on display technology, disregarding mobility issues. Telepresence robots allow some degree of mobility. Self-levitating telepresence robots, such as blimps and drones, could move freely through the air. But they do not provide a three-dimensional appearance of a remote user. In this thesis, we present a telepresence system featuring a self-levitating light field display, LightBee. The display is a drone that flies a projection of a remote user's head in 3D in a space. The remote user’s head movements are used to control the movements of the drone, offering support for non-verbal communication through proxemics and eye contact across a distance. The light field display is created by a cylindrical retroreflective sheet mounted on a quadcopter. 45 projectors, mounted in a ring, project images onto the LightBee’s retroreflector, creating a light field providing motion parallax and stereoscopy without the aid of glasses. This allows multiple local users to experience a “hologrammatic” view of the remote user’s head, as seen from varying angles. Two small cameras mounted on LightBee allow the remote user to fly through and experience the local environment.
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