FACE TIME: Jim Young, chairman of Dallas-based Teleportec, says 3-D projection is the future of business meetings.
photography by Joshua Martin

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only … oh, who am I kidding?

The way Jim Young explains things, that R2-D2 3-D projection of Princess Leia seems like just a shtick.


As chairman of Dallas-based Teleportec, Young often uses his plain-Jane office to demonstrate his company’s pioneering videoconference technology, which transmits 3-D-like images, but has nothing to do with lightsabers or Wookiees or the Force.


“It’s not a hologram,” Young says. “What you’re seeing is a flat image. But  90 percent of the people who see it think it’s a hologram.”


It’s a poor-man’s version of what many saw last election night, when 44 cameras streamcast hip-hop musician Will.i.am’s image from Chicago to CNN’s New York studio using 20 computers operated by a team of technicians.


Young, a former EDS exec, has sold more than 100 of the Teleportec systems so far, mostly to energy companies, investment firms, universities, and K-12 schools, for $30,000 to $40,000 each.


“If you could eliminate two coach [airplane] trips a month, you could pay for it,” Young says.


Teleportec also rents the “distance communications” equipment for several thousand dollars per event, plus the cost of travel and employing a non-Jedi technician.

 

HOW IT WORKS
1. A streaming videoconference appears on a large computer
monitor just below the line of sight.
2. A semi-reflective pane of glass above the screen displays the image.
3. An eye-level videocamera behind the glass captures the image of the audience looking on.
4. Within a few minutes, both parties generally forget they’re speaking via videoconference and think they’re meeting eye-to-eye.