Tag Archives: communication

Pass the Salt

Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj


Pass the salt


Youngsters, including my grandson, label me old-fashioned when I sneer at them using their smartphones. I welcome technology. Way back in 1983, I was the first person to teach computer science with my Apple IIe in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin Districts in Tamilnadu, India. Since then technology has traveled a long way and improved a million times, but not all is that good.

Technology is radically changing the way we interact with each other. While connecting us in many ways, smartphones are also disconnecting every one of us, even family members. From the time my college-going grandson enters the house, he never talks to me, but jabber with people using his smartphone or indulges in texting. He always dines alone while jabbering or texting using his phone.

Smartphones have brought on the phenomenon of causing “death of conversation”. The smartphone technology is affecting social cohesion in the younger generation. They do not know when to switch off their instruments and start conversing directly with those seated just next to them. Due to the rapid rise of the smartphone, our younger generation does not know what social etiquette or interpersonal relationship is.

Young filmmaker Matthew Abeler perfectly depicts the overuse of technology in his short film titled: “Pass The Salt“. While the father and mother are having dinner with their two sons, one son’s phone beeps. Then, both sons start texting. Father says, “pass the salt” and one of the texting sons passes him the pepper. The hilarious ending with the sons dumbfounded should make everyone think twice before they pull out their phone the next time in the middle of dinner.



By the way, it is good etiquette to always pass salt and pepper together. If a person asks for just one, pass both anyway.




“The Chaos” by Charivarius (Gerard Nolst Trenité): The Classic Concordance of Cacography



By T.V. Antony Raj


If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. – A post on Facebook titled “English Pronunciation”


In 1945, a British soldier found a tattered typescript of ‘The Chaos‘, a classic English poem well-known for its versified catalogue of irregularities of English spelling (orthography) and pronunciation, in a girls’ High School in Germany and gave it to Tom Hazelwood, who gave it to Terry De’Ath, who gave it to Chris Upward (1939-2002), Senior Lecturer in German Aston University Birmingham, UK, and Editor-in-chief, Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society from 1985-2000 and the author of Cut Spelling Handbook.

Chris Upward also received a rather different version of the poem from Benno Jost-Westendorf of Recklinghausen. It seems that universities in South Germany used this poem in teaching English. However, No information on the author was available from any source.

Both versions received by Chris Upward appeared as carelessly copied from an original, but it was possible to correct errors in one by reference to the other.

The Simplified Spelling Society (SSS) Newsletter carried an incomplete, rather rough version in the summer of 1986 (pp.17-21) under the heading ‘Author Unknown‘, with a parallel transcription into an early form of Cut Spelling.

Hubert A. Greven’s Elements of English Phonology, published in Paris in 1972, introduced the poem quoting 48 lines from it to prove to French students how impossible English is to pronounce (to read aloud), and by way of acknowledgment said that the author “would like to pay a suitable tribute to Mr. G. Nolst Trenité for permission to copy his poem The Chaos.

Since then a stream of further information and textual variants appeared, culminating in 1993-94 with the most complete and authoritative version of the poem ever likely to emerge ripe for republication in the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society.


Gerard Nolst Trenité
Dr. Gerard NolstTrenité


The Dutch literary (rhymed prose, drama), Anglicist and language critic Dr Gerard Nolst Trenité was born in Utrecht on July 20, 1870. He passed away on October 9, 1946, in Haarlem.

Gerard Nolst Trenité published under the pseudonym Charivarius. His poem The Chaos demonstrates many of the idiosyncrasies of English spelling. The first version of 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to his 1920 textbook ‘Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen‘. It has about 800 of the worst irregularities in English spelling and pronunciation. Later, in 1992-93, The Spelling Society published “the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge,” that has 274 lines.

The version I have reproduced below is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993. A few minor corrections have, however, been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred. Words with clashing spellings or pronunciations are printed here in italics.

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité (1922)

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpsecorpshorse and worse.

I will keep you, Susybusy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
   Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
   Queer, fair seerhear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare hearthear and heard,
   Dies and dietlord and word.

Sword and swardretain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
   Made has not the sound of bade,
   Saysaidpaypaidlaid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
   But be careful how you speak,
   Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
   Wovenovenhow and low,

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughterlaughter and Terpsichore,
   Branch, ranch, measlestopsailsaisles,

Sameexamining, but mining,
   Scholarvicar, and cigar,
   Solarmicawar and far.

From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”,
Lumberplumberbier, but brier,
   Topshambroughamrenown, but known,

   GertrudeGermanwind and wind,
   Beau, kind, kindred, queuemankind,

Reading, Readingheathenheather.
   This phonetic labyrinth
   Gives mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
   Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
   Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
   Blood and flood are not like food,
   Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
   Discountviscountload and broad,
   Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crochetingcroquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
   Roundedwoundedgrieve and sieve,
   Friend and fiendalive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
   Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
   Buoyantminute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
   Would it tally with my rhyme
   If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
   Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
   Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
   You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
   In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
   To abjure, to perjureSheik
   Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Libertylibraryheave and heaven,
   We say hallowed, but allowed,
   Peopleleopardtowed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between moverploverDover.
   Chalice, but police and lice,

   Petalpenal, and canal,

Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
   But it is not hard to tell
   Why it’s pallmall, but Pall Mall.

   Worm and stormchaisechaoschair,

Has the a of drachm and hammer.
   Pussyhussy and possess,
   Desert, but desertaddress.

Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
   Courier, courtier, tombbombcomb,
   Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
   Making, it is sad but true,
   In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
   Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
   Fontfrontwontwantgrand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
   Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
   Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
   MindMeandering but mean,
   Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
   Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
   Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
   Prison, bison, treasure trove,
   Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severanceRibald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
   Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
   Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffetbuffet;
   Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
   Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
   Evil, devil, mezzotint,
   Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
   Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
   Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
   Funny rhymes to unicorn,
   Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
   No. Yet Froude compared with proud
   Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
   Troll and trolleyrealm and ream,
   Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
   But you’re not supposed to say
   Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
   How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
   When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
   Episodes, antipodes,
   Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
   Rather say in accents pure:
   Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
   Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
   Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than rch or w.
   Say then these phonetic gems:
   Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ‘em
   Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
   Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
   With and forthwith, one has voice,
   One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
   Realzealmauve, gauze and gauge,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
   Dostlostpost, and dothclothloth,

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowingbowing, banjo-tuners
   Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
   Puisnetruismuse, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
   Putnutgranite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyrheifer.
   Hintpintsenate, but sedate.

   Tour, but our, dour, succourfour,
   Gasalas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
   Bona fide, alibi
   Gyrate, dowry and awry.

PsalmMaria, but malaria.
   Youthsouthsoutherncleanse and clean,

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
   Rally with allyyeaye,

Say aver, but everfever,
   Never guess-it is not safe,
   We say calvesvalveshalf, but Ralf.

Starry, granarycanary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
   Face, but preface, then grimace,

Oughtoust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
   Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
   Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
   With the sound of saw and sauce;
   Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, puttingPutting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
   Respite, spite, consent, resent.
   Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
   Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk,

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
   G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
   I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
   Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
   Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
   Won’t it make you lose your wits
   Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlockgunwale,
   Islington, and Isle of Wight,
   Housewifeverdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying latherbatherfather?
   Finally, which rhymes with enough,
   Thoughthroughboughcoughhoughsough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!




I Hate Internet Slang


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


Do you use text speak

What does LOL, LMAO, ROFL, BRB, AFK, TY, THX etc. mean? 

I hate Internet slang!

Internet slang refers to a variety of slang languages coined and popularized by internet users to save time on keystrokes. Internet slang saves the writer’s time, but most writers do not realize that the reader of the slang takes more than twice the time to understand what the writer is trying to say; that is why I hate Internet slang and I try not to use these slang words in my communications.

While surfing and searching the internet, I have come across many words used by the internet communities. Here, I would like to share some of them, and what they mean, with you. This list is not complete. It is difficult to provide a standardized definition of Internet slang due to the constant evolving of the gargantuan internet. If you are interested, there are many websites such as http://www.netlingo.com,where you can find more comprehensive listings.

A Listing of Internet Slang and Acronyms

Slang and Acronyms = Meaning

1 = One / exclamation mark
2 = To / Too / Two
4 = For or Four
403 = Deny Access To

AFAP = As Far As Possible
A&F = AAF Always And Forever
A3 = Anywhere, Any time, Any place
AAB = Average At Best
AAK = Alive And Kicking
AAMOF = As A Matter Of Fact
AAP = Always A Pleasure
AAR = At Any Rate
AAYF = As Always, Your Friend
ABD = Already Been Done
ABH = Actual Bodily Harm
ABT = Absolutely
ABT = About
ADL = All Day Long
ADN = Any Day Now
AEAE = And Ever And Ever
AEAP = As Early As Possible
AFAIAC / AFAIC = As Far As I Am Concerned
AFAICS = As Far As I Can See
AFAICT = As Far As I Can Tell
AFAIK = As Far As I Know
AFC = Away From Computer
AGW = All Going Well
ALOL = Actually Laughing Out Loud
ANY1 = Anyone
AYSOS = Are You Stupid Or Something?

B = Be
B4 = Before
Bb = Bye Bye, Goodbye
BBIAB = Be Back In A Bit
BBL = Be Back Later
BBS = Be Back Soon
BD = Big Deal
BRB = Be right back
BRB = Be right back / Bath-room break
BRT = Be right there
BTW = By the way

C = See
CSWS = Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
CU = See you
CUL = See you later
Cuz = Because
CYA = See you
CYS = Check Your Settings

da = The
dat = That
DBA = Don’t Bother Asking
der = There
DIAF = Die In A Fire
Dunno = Don’t know

E123 = Easy as One, Two, Three
E2HO = Each to His/Her Own
EAK = Eating at Keyboard
ED = Erectile Dysfunction
EE or EEs = Employee -or- Employees
EFT = Electronic Funds Transfer
ELOL = Evil Laugh Out Loud
EM = Excuse Me
EMBM = Early Morning Business Meeting
EMFBI = Excuse Me For Butting In
EMFJI = Excuse Me For Jumping In
EMI = Excuse My Ignorance
EML = Email Me Later
EMSG = E-Mail Message
EOD = End Of Day -or- End Of Discussion
EOM = End Of Message
ESEMED = Every Second Every Minute Every Day
EWIE = mailing While Intoxicated
EZ = Easy

FHO = Friends Hanging Out
FTL = For The Loss
FTUW = For The Uber Win
FTW = For The Win
FWIW = For What It’s Worth
FYI = For Your Information

G2G / GTG = Got to go
GAL = Get A Life
GFY = Good For You
GG = Good game, Good going
GIYF = Google Is Your Friend
GRX = Gracias, Merci

HAND = Have A Nice Day
HS = Holy Shit
HTH = Hope This Helps

IACL = I Am Currently Laughing
IANAL = I Am Not A Lawyer
IANARS = I Am Not A Rocket Scientist
IC = I see
ICYDK = In Case You Didn’t Know
IDGI = I Don’t Get It
IDK = I Don’t Know
IIRC = If I Recall Correctly
ILY / ILU = I Love You
IMHO = In My Honest Opinion
IMNSHO = In My Not So Honest Opinion
IMO = In My Opinion
IRL = In Real Life
ITT = In This Thread
IYDMMA = If You Don’t Mind Me Asking

JJ = Just Joking
JK = Just Kidding
JOOC = Just Out Of Curiosity
JP = Just Playing

K = Okay
KKOk = Cool / Ok Kewl
KL = kool, cool
Kwl = Cool

The future of texting

L8r = Later
LLAH = Laughing Like A Hyena
LMAO = Laughing My Ass Off
LMFAO = Laughing My F*cking Ass Off
LOL = Laugh Out Loud
LQTM = Laugh Quietly To Myself

M8 = Mate
MYOB = Mind Your Own Business

NLS = Not Life Safe
NOYB = None Of Your Business
NP = No Problem
NSFW = Not Safe For Work
NVM = Never mind
NWS = Not Work Safe

O = Oh
O3 = Out of Office
OIC = Oh, I see
OJ = Only Joking
OMG = Oh My God! / Oh My Goodness!,
OC = Out Of Character
OP = Original Poster / Original Post
OT = Off Topic

PEBKAC = Problem Exists Between The Keyboard And The Chair
Pic = Picture
PITA = Pain In The Ass
Pix = Pictures
Plz / Pls = Please
PPMSLL = Pissing/ Pissed Myself Laughing
POSL = Piece Of ShIt
PPLL = People
PTTLL = Pop To The Loo

Q = Queue -or- Question
QAP = Quick As Possible, Quickly As Possible
QL = Quit Laughing
QOTD = Quote Of The Day
QS = Quit Scrolling

RL = Real Life
ROFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
ROFLMAO = Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off
ROFLMAOL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Out Loud

Shudda = Should Have
SMH = Shaking My Head
SNH = Sarcasm Noted Here
SO = Significant Other
SOS = Same Old Shit
Soz / srry = Sorry
SSDD = Same Shit, Different Day
STFW = Search The F*cking Web
sup = What’s up?
sup homes = What’s up, friend?
SWW = Sorry, Wrong Window – typing in the wrong box


Thnx = Thanks
Tho = Though
TIA = Thanks In Advance
TLTR = Too Long To Read
TTFN = Ta Ta For Now
TTYL = Talk To You Later
TTYT = Talk To You Tomorrow
TY = Thank You
TYT = Take Your Time

U = You
ULM = You Love me

VBD = Very Big Deal

W8 = Wait
Wanna = Want to
WB = Welcome Back
Wd = Well done
WDUWTA? = What Do You Want To Talk About?
Wile = While
WOOT = We Own the Other Team
WTH? = What The Hell?
WURSC = Wow, you are so cool

XLNT = Excellent
XME = Excuse Me
XOXO = Hugs and Kisses
XOXOZZZ = Hugs and Kisses and Sweet Dreams
XQZT = Exquisite
XTC = Ecstasy
XXCC = Kiss, Kiss, Hug, Hug

YCM = You Copied Me
Ye = Yeah / Yes
YGTI = You Get The Idea
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary
Yo = Hey / Your
YSVW = You are So Very Welcome
YW = You are Welcome

ZZZ = Sleeping, Bored, Tired


Texting language


No More Telegrams Stop


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


A Telegraph Office

On 14th of July, the era of electric telegraphy will come to an end in India.

Before the advent of electric telegraphy, the word “telegraph” had been used for semaphore signaling. People used smoke, beacons, reflected light, and flag semaphore signals for transmitting line-of-sight signal messages.

Semaphore telegraph Bihar1823
A semaphore “telegraph” signalling tower in Silwar (Bihar), 13 February 1823, thirty years before electric telegraphy was rapidly introduced into India by the East India Company.

During the period 1820–30, the East India Company’s Government in India seriously considered constructing a semaphore network – a series of hundred feet high signaling towers (“telegraph” towers), along the entire distance from Calcutta to Bombay, each tower separated from the next by eight miles. Although such towers were built in Bengal and Bihar, the India-wide semaphore network never took off. By mid-19th century, electric telegraphy had become viable making manual signaling obsolete.

Dr. W. B. O'Shaughnessy
Dr. W. B. O’Shaughnessy

In 1851, Dr. W. B. O’Shaughnessy, an Irish Professor of Chemistry in the Calcutta Medical College, famous for his work in pharmacology and inventions related to telegraphy, conducted a trial run for a telegraph service from Calcutta to Diamond Harbour along the river Hooghly. He used a galvanoscope of his own design manufactured in India as the telegraph receiver. Signals were transmitted using electrical telegraph which unlike pigeon post did not carry a physical object bearing the message. The pre-requisite to use of telegraphy required that both the sender and the receiver should be aware of the method of encoding the message.

 Lord Dalhousie
Lord Dalhousie

A year later, after the experimental telegraph service was deemed to be a success, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, sought and obtained permission from the Court of Directors of the Company for the construction of telegraph lines from “Calcutta to Agra, Agra to Bombay, Agra to Peshawar, and Bombay to Madras, extending in all over 3,050 miles and including forty-one offices.”

By February 1855 after all the proposed telegraph lines had been constructed paid messages were sent using these lines.

By 1857, the telegraph network had expanded to 4,555 miles of lines and sixty two offices, and had reached as far as the hill station of Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills and the port of Calicut on the southwest coast of India.

Replica of Morse's first telegraph instrument.
Replica of Morse’s first telegraph instrument.

In early 1857, the Morse instrument supplanted Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s instrument.

During the Indian rebellion of 1857, more than seven hundred miles of telegraph lines were destroyed mainly in the North-Western Provinces by the rebel forces. Nevertheless, The East India Company used the remaining intact telegraph lines that to warn many outposts of impending civil disturbances. The political value of the new technology was, thus, driven home to the Company. In the following year, the Company not only relaid the destroyed lines, but also expanded the network further by 2,000 miles.

The first Telegraph Act for India was the British Parliament’s Act XXXIV of 1854. When the public telegram service started operating in 1855, the telegraphic charges was fixed at one rupee for every sixteen words (including the address) for every 400 miles of transmission. The charges were doubled for telegrams sent between 6 PM and 6 AM. These rates remained fixed until 1882.

In the year 1860–61, two years after the end of Company rule, India had 11,093 miles of telegraph lines and 145 telegraph offices. That year telegrams totaling Rs. 5 lakhs in value were sent by the public, the working expense of the Indian Telegraph Department was Rs. 14 lakhs, and the capital expenditure until the end of the year totaled Rs. 65 lakhs.

The advent of radio in the early 1900s brought about radiotelegraphy and other forms of wireless telegraphy.


Since telegrams can no longer compete with internet and mobile SMS and smartphones, it is not surprising to learn that India going to shut down its 163 year old ‘Telegram’ service and the last telegram will be sent on July 14, 2013. The reasons cited: It is not commercially viable, there are huge losses, and in the current scenario it is outdated.

Shamim Akhtar, general manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India’s state-owned telecom company said: “We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant.”

In 1985, at its peak, 60 million telegrams were exchanged across 45,000 offices. Today, only 5,000 telegrams are sent every day in India by 75 telegram offices that exist, employing 998 people, down from 12,500 telegram employees in better years.

Telegraph services ended in the United States seven years ago. On July 14, 2013, 158 years after the public telegram service was first set up in 1855, the world’s final telegram will be sent in India.


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Reproduced from Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

TeleHumanAn image of the TeleHuman prototype, which uses Kinects and a 3-D projector to allow for 3D video conferencing. (Courtesy of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s University / May 4, 2012)
By Deborah Netburn May 4, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

Skype and video iChat are great, but traditional video conferencing tools are so two-dimensional. Just imagine if you could talk to a friend or colleague in holographic 3-D.

Well, you may soon be able to. Researchers at Queen’s University have created a life-sized, 3-D video conferencing pod that allows users to see the person they are talking to in 360-degree holographic-like clarity.

They call it the TeleHuman.

But before images of Princess Leia telling Obi-Wan Kenobi that he is her only hope start dancing in your head, know that the 3-D holographic image only works if you have what looks like a giant cylindrical floor lamp made of acrylic that can display the life-sized 3-D holographic image in your home or office.

It’s clunky, and it’s expensive, but it’s still cool.

This innovation in video conferencing comes to you courtesy of Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab at Queen’s Universtiy in Canada.

Although holographic video conferencing sounds very futuristic, Vertegaal and his team say they were able to put it together with existing technology.

“We basically stitched together a bunch of Kinect,” said Vertegaal in an interview with The Times, “but it was relatively complicated to get them all to work together.”

In a video about the project, the researchers explain that the pod has six Microsoft Kinect sensors at the top of the display that capture 3-D images as a person walks around the pod, and a 3-D projector in the cylindrical base of the pod creates the holographic effect.

The TeleHuman will only pick up your image if you are standing within roughly eight feet of the acrylic cylinder. Part of that is because of privacy concerns, said Vertegaal, and part of it is because that’s the farthest distance that the Kinects can pick up the image.

The researchers have programmed the Kinects to erase all the background imagery so when you show up in the other person’s pod, all they will see is your 3-D image.

Unlike traditional video conferencing, there is no “calling” or “answering” involved. In order to show up in someone else’s TeleHuman, all you have to do is walk toward your own TeleHuman and the pod on their end will start glowing with your image.

Using the same pod and similar technology, Vertegaal and his team created BodiPod — an interactive 3-D anatomy model of the human body.People can walk around the model and peel off layers of tissue to reveal muscles, organs and bone structure with hand signals or voice commands.

Vertegaal said he would like to see the acrylic pods come in different shapes and sizes — maybe dinosaur shape, or perhaps Viking boat shape.

As for its use as a teleconferencing tool, he said that he thinks the TeleHuman could be available at a $5,000 price point in the next five years.


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