Eye-to-Eye Video Conferencing

“The eyes are windows to the soul.” From time immemorial, poets have waxed eloquent about the beauty of the eye. We were taught to look straight at the person we were talking to, and distrust those with “shifty eyes”. How sad it is that video chats deny so many millions, this most basic form of human expression; from board-room executives, to remote workers, to young love separated by great distances?

It's not just a pesky annoyance, it's surprisingly expensive. We lose so many visual cues, that communication effectiveness degrades significantly, leading to costly misunderstandings and misjudgements. This lack of human connection also costs thousands of air miles annually.

Today, literally billions of smartphones, tablets, and computers force us to either look at the camera, or at the screen when we video conference. To appear as if we are looking at the other party, we must look directly into the camera, and so, not see them speak. Whereas to see them speak, we must appear with averted eyes. Awkward!

In this project, Oneirix Labs demonstrated true eye-to-eye videoconferencing.

Our solution unites the camera and the display, so that we can look directly at each other as we speak. We backlight an LCD panel with a transparent light source, and place a camera behind it. Then we switch the display from “on” to transparent at a very high frame rate, and synchronise image capture with the transparent state. Finally, with the right video processing algorithms, we can capture as well as display smooth video, with genuine human connection.

Read the patent here: Camera placed behind a display with a transparent backlight.