WO2008036931A2 - 3-d displays and telepresence systems and methods therefore - Google Patents

3-d displays and telepresence systems and methods therefore Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2008036931A2
WO2008036931A2 PCT/US2007/079207 US2007079207W WO2008036931A2 WO 2008036931 A2 WO2008036931 A2 WO 2008036931A2 US 2007079207 W US2007079207 W US 2007079207W WO 2008036931 A2 WO2008036931 A2 WO 2008036931A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
camera
display device
image
way mirror
observation zone
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2007/079207
Other languages
French (fr)
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WO2008036931A3 (en
Inventor
Peter Mcduffie White
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Peter Mcduffie White
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Publication date
Priority to US84641506P priority Critical
Priority to US60/846,415 priority
Priority to US85506506P priority
Priority to US60/855,065 priority
Priority to US60/968,447 priority
Priority to US96844707P priority
Application filed by Peter Mcduffie White filed Critical Peter Mcduffie White
Publication of WO2008036931A2 publication Critical patent/WO2008036931A2/en
Publication of WO2008036931A3 publication Critical patent/WO2008036931A3/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/14Systems for two-way working
    • H04N7/141Systems for two-way working between two video terminals, e.g. videophone
    • H04N7/142Constructional details of the terminal equipment, e.g. arrangements of the camera and the display
    • H04N7/144Constructional details of the terminal equipment, e.g. arrangements of the camera and the display camera and display on the same optical axis, e.g. optically multiplexing the camera and display for eye to eye contact

Abstract

A telepresence system enhances the perception of presence of a remote person (128) involved in a video conference. The system preferably has a two-way mirror (2), which is between the observer (3) and the display device (17), positioned at an angle to reflect a backdrop surface (8). The backdrop surface (8), which is further away from the two-way mirror (2) than the image plane of the image display device (17), appears superimposed in a position behind the image of a person from the remote location. The system preferably minimizes image distortion via an optical path for the camera line of sight (160, 161, 162) that is substantially longer than the physical distance (159) between the user (3) and the camera (1). The system may be asymmetrical, in that one camera is on axis with the user's line of sight (182) while the other camera is off axis with the user's line of sight (182).

Description

3-D Displays and Telepresence Systems and Methods Therefore

This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 60/846,415, filed September 22, 2006, incorporated herein by reference, and to provisional U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 60/855,065, filed October 27, 2006, incorporated herein by reference, and to provisional U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 60/968,447, filed August 28, 2007, incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to video conferencing apparatus and more particularly to systems and methods for achieving or enhancing "telepresence" which is a perception of presence of a person from a distant location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above features of the present invention will be more clearly understood from consideration of the following descriptions in connection with accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. 1 illustrates a prior art configuration of an eye contact configuration with a display device behind a two-way mirror and a camera in front of the two-way mirror;

Fig. 2 illustrates a prior art configuration of and eye contact configuration with a display device reflected in a two-way mirror and a camera behind the two-way mirror;

Fig. 3 illustrates configuration of a person with a hand raised in the view of a camera within an eye contact configuration with a display device behind a two-way mirror and a camera in front of the two-way mirror placed on a desktop;

Fig. 4 illustrates a configuration of a person with a hand raised in the view of a camera within an eye contact configuration with a display device reflected in a two-way mirror and a camera behind the two-way mirror placed on a desktop;

Fig. 5 illustrates a user of the eye contact configuration of Fig. 3 or Fig. 4 with distortion resulting from the close wide angle camera view;

Fig. 6 illustrates a user of an eye contact arrangement as seen from a camera at a desirable distance;

Fig. 7 illustrates a user positioned at a desirable distance from an eye contact configuration;

Fig. 8 illustrates a user at an embodiment of the invention with the camera at a desirable distance achieved through a double reflection arrangement;

Fig. 9 illustrates the path of the camera view for the configuration illustrated in Fig. 8;

Fig. 10 illustrates the angle of view of the camera with the desired camera view capturing the user and the positioning of a computer keyboard and monitor on a desktop; Fig. 11 illustrates the location of a black panel above the two-way mirror and a black background behind the user;

Fig. 12 illustrates lights positioned to achieve desirable lighting of the user;

Fig. 13 illustrates a plan view of a preferred embodiment of the invention; Fig. 14 illustrates a plan view of a preferred embodiment of the invention with supporting structures;

Fig. 15 illustrates a plan view of a preferred embodiment of the invention with the location of lighting illustrated;

Fig. 16 illustrates an arrangement of workstations with desk structures aligned horizontally;

Fig. 17 illustrates an arrangement of workstations with a background panel and the back of the alternating workstations aligned horizontally;

Fig. 18 illustrates an arrangement of trapezoidal shaped workstations aligned to form a circle;

Fig. 19 illustrates an arrangement of trapezoidal shaped workstations aligned to form a curving line;

Fig. 20 illustrates a telepresence workstation connected over a telecommunications network to a telepresence conference system;

Fig. 21 illustrates a telepresence workstation with a codec and a computer connected over the internet to a telepresence system with a computer and codec; and

Fig. 22 illustrates a telepresence center with multiple telepresence workstations connected to multiple locations with telepresence communications systems.

Fig. 23 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with an asymmetric telepresence communications arrangement with an on-axis communications system with a camera aligned on axis for eye contact for capturing an image with eye contact alignment and a network connecting to an off-axis communications system with a camera not obscured by a two-way mirror for capturing an off-axis image of a user for two way communication;

Fig. 24 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with the receiving party viewing a perceived eye contact while the camera is off-axis to eye contact and positioned in front of the two-way mirror along with the image display device;

Fig. 25 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with the receiving party viewing a perceived eye contact while the camera is off-axis to eye contact and viewing through a gap between the two-way mirror and the image display device;

Fig. 26 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with the receiving party viewing a perceived eye contact while the image display device is behind the two-way mirror; the camera is above the two-way mirror; and a backdrop is reflected to appear behind the image on the image display device; Fig. 27 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with the receiving party viewing a perceived eye contact while the image display device is behind the two-way mirror; the camera is below the two-way mirror; and a backdrop is reflected to appear behind the image on the image display device;

Fig. 28 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a lectern with the camera and the image display device in front of the two-way mirror;

Fig. 29 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a lectern with the camera positioned forward of the two-way mirror and positioned on the front of the monitor;

Fig. 30 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a lectern positioned on a platform with the camera located inside a mock podium that is reflected in the two-way mirror;

Fig. 31 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured for the appearance of a head-to-toe image of a person to appear in a three dimensional setting with a camera positioned between a large two-way mirror and an overhead rear projection screen;

Fig. 32 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured for the appearance of a head-to-toe image of a person with a camera positioned above a two-way mirror and a front projection screen below;

Fig. 33 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a service counter with a camera positioned between the two-way mirror and the overhead image display device;

Fig. 34 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention in Fig. 33 with the two-way mirror rotated upwards to allow a person to work at the service counter;

Fig. 35 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a service counter with a camera between a two- way mirror and an image display device located below;

Fig. 36 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a service counter with a camera located above a two-way mirror with the image display device positioned below and a keyboard and data monitor for interaction with a user;

Fig. 37 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention positioned above retail shelving with a camera positioned between a two-way mirror and an overhead image display device; Fig. 38 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention positioned above an interactive computer based kiosk with a camera positioned between a two-way mirror and an overhead display device;

Fig. 39 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a desk with a camera positioned between the two-way mirror and an overhead image display device;

Fig. 40 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a desk with a camera positioned about the two- way mirror and an image display device below;

Fig. 41 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a desk with the camera positioned above the two-way mirror and the image display device with a backdrop reflected in a position behind the image display device;

Fig. 42 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a desk with a small image display device behind a two-way mirror with a small camera above the two-way mirror and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the image display device;

Fig. 43 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention configured as a conference table system with a camera located above a two-way mirror with an image display device located behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the image display device;

Fig. 44 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention including retail shelving with a camera positioned above the two-way mirror with an image display device behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the image display device;

Fig. 45 illustrates a computer based kiosk embodiment of the present invention with a camera positioned above the two- way mirror with an image display device behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the image display device;

Fig. 46 illustrates an automatic teller machine incorporating an embodiment of the present invention with a camera above a two-way mirror with an image display device behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the image display device;

Fig. 47 illustrates an automatic teller machine incorporating an embodiment of the present invention with a camera above a two-way mirror with an image display device behind and a backdrop curving to meet the two-way mirror at an angle to give the appearance of a reflection of the backdrop behind the image display device;

Fig. 48 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera located above the two-way mirror with an image of a front projection screen and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the screen; Fig. 49 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera located above the two-way mirror with a rear projection screen behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the screen;

Fig. 50 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera located above the two-way mirror with a front projection screen behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the screen;

Fig. 51 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera located above the two-way mirror with a rear projection screen behind and a backdrop reflected to appear behind the screen;

Fig. 52 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention as a kiosk or customer service counter with a surface at the level of the ceiling reflected into a plane of a wall behind;

Fig. 53 illustrates a front view of the embodiment in Fig. 52;

Fig. 54 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention in a room with the backdrop at floor level to appear reflected into a plane of a wall behind and;

Fig. 55 illustrates a top view of the embodiment in Fig. 54.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Previous configurations have achieved eye contact. The prior art of Fig. 1 illustrates a two-way mirror 2 positioned between a user 3 and an image display device 17. The two-way mirror is angled to reflect the image of the user 3 toward a camera 1. The camera 1 views the user 3 with wide field of view 45. A two-way mirror is typically a partially silvered transparent substrate, which could be glass, plastic, Mylar or other transparent material. The two-way mirror could be a laminated glass panel that is semi-reflective on one surface and anti-reflective on the other surface. A two- way mirror has also been referred to as a one-way mirror or a beamsplitter. The line of sight of the camera 1 is positioned to match the line of sight between the user 3 and the eye level of an image of person displayed on the image display device 17 to produce a simulated eye contact between the two parties.

The prior art of Fig. 2 illustrates a two-way mirror 2 that is angled so that it reflects an image display device 17, such as a monitor or screen. The reflected image 5 appears behind the two-way mirror. The camera 1 views the user 3 with a wide field of view 45.

Fig. 3 shows an eye contact configuration with the user 3 sitting close to the configuration. The camera 1 views the user 3 with wide field of view 45. The user 3 has a raised hand 156, which is in the view of the camera 1. A mirror 42 is positioned between the two-way mirror 2 and the camera 1 so that the image is not reversed and the camera is in a horizontal orientation. The camera 1 is raised on a supporting structure 155 and the eye contact arrangement is placed on a table 33. Fig. 4 shows an eye contact configuration with a monitor 17 positioned below a two-way mirror 2, which reflects an image of what is displayed on monitor 17, the image appearing to user 3 to be a plane 5 behind two-way mirror 2. The eye contact terminal is raised up to an approximate eye level with supporting structure 155, which is placed on a desktop 33. The camera 1 views the user 3 while a hand 156 is raised into the wide field of view 45.

Fig. 5 shows a user 3 with a hand 156 held within a wide field of view generated from the camera of either the eye contact configuration of Fig. 3 or the eye contact terminal of Fig. 4. Since the hand is closer to the camera than the body of the user, the hand is distorted to appear to be larger than the user's head. This distortion of the display of the user can be disconcerting to the viewer receiving the telepresence communication. Furthermore, it is well known that portrait photography or video production positions the person at a reasonable distance from the camera. A wide angle of view causes distortion to the face, such as exaggeration of the size of the nose of the person.

Fig. 6 shows an image of a user 3 as seen by a camera at a desirable distance from the camera. This images shows that the outstretched hand 156 is not excessively enlarged relative to the rest of the body. Furthermore, the features of the face are not distorted by this preferable viewing distance. In this view the camera was approximately eight feet from the person. Fig. 7 shows the eye contact terminal of Fig. 4 with a camera 1 positioned at a desirable distance 157 from the user 3. This drawing was produced with a distance 157 of eight feet. This distance can be somewhat more or less with varying results. The resulting angle of view 45 does not distort the image of the user 3 as shown in Fig. 6. This arrangement shows a long table 33 spanning the distance between the user 3 and the camera 1 within the eye contact terminal. The total distance 158 between the user 3 and the back of the eye contact terminal structure 155 is excessively long. This configuration would be too large and therefore not be practical for most applications. Furthermore, the user 3 is so far from the eye contact terminal that the image 5 would appear too small to see clearly. As a result, this arrangement of an eye contact terminal is unsatisfactory.

Fig. 8 shows an embodiment of the present invention with a user 3 viewing an image display device 17 at eye level. A camera 1 captures the image of the user 3 by way of a reflection off mirror 42 and two-way mirror 2. Without the two reflections the location of the camera would need to be in position 200. The distance between the apparent position of the camera 200 and the user 3 is indicated by distance 157, which in this illustration is 8 feet. The actual distance could vary, but this distance of 8 feet achieves a desirable angle of view 45. In this embodiment the distance between the user 3 and the back of the image display device 17 is a distance 159 of 4 feet, which is half of the distance 157 of the camera view and less than half of the depth of the unsatisfactory eye contact configuration illustrated in Fig. 7.

Fig. 9 shows the line of sight at eye level between the user 3 and the camera 1. In this configuration the segment 160 is approximately 30". Segment 161 is approximately 48" and segment 162 is approximately 18". The total distance of all three segments is approximately 96" or 8 feet. The physical horizontal distance 159 between user 3 and back of the image display device 17 is about 4 feet. Also, it is this same physical horizontal distance 159 between the user 3 and the back of the camera 1. However, by using the two reflections - from two-way mirror 2 and small mirror 42 - an optical distance or line of sight distance twice as long (or longer) can be achieved within the same physical distance 159. While the use of two reflections in the camera line of sight has been known, the appreciation for the placement and angle of the mirrors in order to compensate for distortion has not been known. It is believed that the present inventor is the first to appreciate the unique and desirable configuration by which undesirable distortion can be reduced or eliminated by creating an asymmetrical configuration in which the optical distance between user 3 and display 17 differs significantly from the optical distance between user 3 and camera 1 - even when the physical distances are the same or similar.

The angle of the two-way mirror 2 could be between 45 degrees and 50 degrees, but is not limited to this range of angles. The angle of the two-way mirror 2 in this illustration is 48 degrees. By angling the two-way mirror 2 at 48 degrees the image pathlόl is angled away from the position of the camera 1, which results in the length of the image path 162 becoming longer. The back of the camera 1 can be aligned vertically with the back of the image display device 17 to achieve the longest camera view while maintaining the most compact profile of the telepresence workstation. In order to achieve a horizontal line between the small mirror 42 and the camera 1, it should parallel the angle of the two- way mirror 2. In this illustration the small mirror 42 is at 48 degrees from horizontal. One skilled in the art will recognize, however, that either or both mirrors could be tilted at other angles and the placement of camera 1 adjusted accordingly. Fig. 10 illustrates an optimal angle of view 45 for capturing an image of the user 3 for display on a 50" screen in a 16 x 9 aspect ratio, such as a 50" plasma display. The camera image will be transmitted to another telepresence system in a receiving location. At that receiving location it is desired to display the image of the person at the telepresence system at life-size. Therefore, the camera 1 must capture the image of the user 3 at the correct size. In this illustration a line 201 provides a reference for the height of the image at the position of the user 3. For the purposes of this illustration the reference line 201 is a height 163 of 20 1A", which is the average height of a 50" plasma monitor typically used in a telepresence system in a receiving location.

Also, Fig. 10 illustrates the location of a data sharing display monitor 69 to be viewed by the user 3. This monitor 69 is positioned below the camera view 45 that is reflected off the two-way mirror and in front of the camera view that is reflected off the small mirror 42. A keyboard 94 is positioned on a telepresence workstation desktop 164. A panel 165 is positioned at the back of the desktop 164. This panel 165 will protect mirror 42 and block any unwanted light from entering the view of the camera 1.

Fig. 11 shows a panel 16 above the two-way mirror 2. The underside of this panel 16 is light absorbing, such as a matt black surface. Through the two-way mirror 2 is an extended camera view 168 that extends to the underside of panel 16. Since this panel surface 16 does not reflect or emanate any light, the only light viewed by the camera is the reflection off the two-way mirror 2. It is important to note that the image display device 17 should not be in the line of the extended camera view 168 and therefore may need to be positioned a distance back from the two-way mirror 2.

Fig. 11 also shows a light absorbing panel 127 behind the user 3, which covers the full height of the angle of view 45 of the camera 1. This black panel 127 is a particularly advantageous component when the telepresence workstation is used for communication with a telepresence system capable of displaying a depth relationship between the image of the telepresent person and a physical background in the receiving location. Since the receiving image has a black background there will not be any light displayed outside of the image of the telepresent person. As a result, the person can be viewed in a three dimensional relationship in front of a reflected backdrop as shown in US patent 7057637 by White, incorporated herein by reference.

Fig. 12 shows a section view of the telepresence workstation with lighting. The overhead lighting 129 illuminates the top of the head and shoulders of the user 3. The angle of light coverage 130 should be restricted to only cover the area of the user 3. In particular, the overhead lighting 129 should not shine on the black backdrop surface 127. Also, the light should not shine on the monitor 69 or into the area of the camera 1. Front lighting 131 is positioned to illuminate the front of the user 3. This lighting 131 is particularly advantageous for illuminating the user 3 for a well lit camera view. The front lighting could be positioned to the sides to minimize the light shining directly into the eyes of the user 3.

Fig. 13 shows a plan view of an embodiment of the invention. The horizontal angle of view 67 is the basis for the form and structure of the telepresence workstation. The angle of view 67 originates at a point 200, which is determined by the desired optical distance to the camera within the path of a double mirrored rig, such as illustrated in Figure 10. The angle 67 is set by the width of the image plane 166 at the middle of the location of the user 3. The width of the image plane 166 is based on the width of the 16 x 9 aspect ratio of a 50" plasma monitor in the present example . In order to capture a life-size image of the user 3, the camera view must match the width of the display screen of the receiving telepresence system. Other configurations can be determined for other size and configurations of monitor through routine experimentation.

Also in Fig. 13 the image display device 17 is specified to be a width that will approximately fit within the angle 67. In this illustration the width of a 23" LCD monitor in a 16 x 9 aspect ratio is used for the size of the image display device 17. The two-way mirror 2 is a trapezoidal shape with sides that fit within the vertical planes of the angle 67. The two- way mirror 2 is preferably wider than the coverage of the angle 67 to allow for some extra margin in the camera coverage.

The telepresence workstation desktop 164 is preferably a trapezoidal shape to have the sides fit within the vertical plane of the angle 67. The sides of the desktop extend beyond the angle 67 to allow for an extra margin in the camera coverage. The black background panel 127 is set to be slightly wider that the width of the angle 67 as it reaches the plane of the background 127. While the trapezoidal shape is particularly advantageous for compactness, all manner of other shapes and configurations including square, rectangular, curved, and the like, are within the contemplated scope of the present invention.

Fig. 14 shows supporting structural panels 169 on the two sides of the telepresence workstation. These side panels provide an enclosure on the sides to keep unwanted light from striking the camera inside of the workstation. Also, the side panels support the two-way mirror 2. The telepresence workstation desktop 164 is attached to the side panels 169. A keyboard 94 may be placed on the desktop 164. A back panel 170 is positioned behind the image display device 17. The back panel 170 is removable to allow access for servicing the image display device 17. Also, a lower part of the back panel 170 is removable to provide access to the camera, codec, computer and other equipment. The black background surface 127 is attached to a supporting structure 173. This supporting structure 173 could be hung from the ceiling or supported from the floor. In some configurations this supporting structure 173 may be in the form of a sliding door or a hinged panel.

Fig. 15 shows a plan view of lighting in the telepresence workstation. One, two or more lights 129 may be positioned above the user 3. This overhead lighting could be a strip of light, such as a fluorescent light. The lighting 129 could be attached to the supporting structure 173. These overhead lights 173 should cover the full width of the image area 166 to assure that the user 3 is illuminated from above. This overhead lighting is especially important for a user 3 who has dark hair. The highlight can help the dark hair to stand out from the black background as seen by the camera. The overhead lighting 129 is also important for providing a bright edge to the shoulders of a user, especially when the user is wearing a dark coat or shirt. The side lights 171 could be position to shine across the width of the workstation to illuminate the inside of the side panels 169. The side lights 171 should be controlled to an angle 172 that does not allow light to shine directly into the eyes of the user 3. Furthermore, the side lights 171 should be controlled so that light does not shine directly onto the two-way mirror 2 or the camera, which could introduce unwanted light into the camera view. Alternatively, the lights 171 could be integrated into the depth of the side panels 169 with a diffusion surface to produce a large illuminated surface to illuminate the user 3 with soft light.

Fig. 16 shows an arrangement of the overall workstations 174 as they are positioned in a row. In this arrangement the back 170 of one workstation is aligned with the front of the desktop 164 of another workstation. With the adjacent workstations 174 flipped in vertical orientation the angled sides of the trapezoidal shapes align to produce a linear row. The backdrop structures 173 are in rows with a small gap between. If this gap is not wide enough for a user to walk between, the backdrop structures 173 could be made to have the capability of sliding to the side or of rotating outward to allow access.

Fig. 17 shows another arrangement of the overall workstations 174. In this arrangement the back panel 170 is aligned with the backdrop structure 173. This produces an enclosed workspace. Access to the workspace can be achieved by having the background panel 173 rotate outward or sliding to the side.

Fig. 18 shows an arrangement of the trapezoidal workstations 174 with matched sides to an adjacent workstation. The result is an arrangement, which could form a complete circle.

Fig. 19 shows an arrangement of the trapezoidal workstations 174 with matched sides to form a curved arrangement.

Fig. 20 shows an embodiment of the invention in the configuration of a telepresence network solution comprised of a telepresence workstation 174 connected by a cable 136 to a network 144. In the receiving location is a telepresence system 133 that is connected by a cable 137 to the network 144. It should be noted that telepresence is not practical with standalone systems. Telepresence can be achieved when two or more systems are connected over a network that meets specific requirements. Therefore, it is advantageous for this invention to incorporate the specific technologies that are necessary to complete the telepresence communications. For the purposes of discussion, this embodiment of the invention is referred to as the "telepresence technologies configuration."

The network 144 could be an IP network, such as the Internet, Internet2, LAN, WAN, MAN, VPN, ATM, or other network for transmitting data in the Internet Protocol. When transmitting on an IP network the codecs 40 and 152 will code and decode the transmission of the audio and video in the H.323 protocol or another IP protocol.

The computer 154 at the location of the telepresence workstation 174 could be connected to the display monitor 153. A cable 139 would be connected between the codec 152 and the display monitor 153. The codec 152 will have the capability of accepting the incoming signal for the display monitor through an internal hardware solution or an external data solutions box. The codec 152 will process the signal for the display monitor and transmit it as part of the output through the network connection 136. The codec 40 for the receiving communications system 133 will receive the incoming signal over the network connection 137. The signal will be decoded by the codec 40 and transmitted to the display monitor over the cable 135. In this manner, the output of the computer 154 at the location of the sending communications system 174 will appear both at the display monitor 153 and at the display monitor 69 of the receiving communications system. The observers 3 and 70 in the receiving location will see the output of the computer 154 displayed in front of them on the image display device 69 as this visual content is controlled by the presenter 128 in the sending location.

It is not necessary for the receiving location to have a computer since the incoming visual presentation is received over the network 144 and decoded by the codec 40. However, in this configuration, the observers 70 and 3 do not have a means for interacting with the visual display content or an ability to transmit visual content back to the presenter 128.

Fig. 21 shows a different telepresence technologies configuration with a workstation 174 connected over an IP network 145 to a receiving communications system 133. The IP network could be any network operating in the Internet Protocol, such as a LAN, WAN, MAN, VPN, Internet2, the Internet or other IP network. In this configuration, the codec 152 in the location of the workstation 174 is connected by a network cable 148, such as a CAT5 cable, to an input box 147 which is connected to an IP network 145 by a network connection 146, such as a Tl line, DSL, ADSL, VDSL, SDSL or other network delivery service. The codec 40 in the location of the receiving communications system 133 is connected to the network 145 by a cable 141 to a junction box 143 and a network service 144. The codecs 40 and 152 can establish two-way communication over the network 145.

The computer 154 at the location of the sending communications system 174 could have a network connection 149 to a junction box 147 for access over a network service 146 to a network 145. The computer 120 in the location of the receiving communications system 133 could have a network connection 142 to a junction box 143 to a network service 144 to a network 145. The two computers 120 and 154 can establish a connection over the network 145 and share data through a software application, such as Microsoft NetMeeting or another data sharing software. This configuration has the advantage that both the send and receive locations can interact with visual display material for effective collaboration. Also, this configuration has the advantage that the codecs 40 and 152 do not need to process any of the visual display material and, therefore, can dedicate their processing power and bandwidth to the quality of the audio and video transmission.

Fig. 22 shows a telepresence technologies architecture that embodies a custom network architecture and innovative equipment functionality. This telepresence technologies architecture has both the locations 133 and 174 connected to a telepresence operations center 150 that is specific to the requirements of achieving telepresence through the embodiment of the invention. Instead of a direct connection between the two locations 133 and 174, each location would establish a connection to the telepresence operations center. The telepresence operations center would be specific to receiving and transmitting life-size images of people with alignment for eye contact. Unlike typical network architecture using voice or data hubs, the telepresence technologies architecture would standardize the format of generating the three- dimensional qualities made possible through life-size communication with a reflected background. Furthermore, the telepresence technologies architecture would be engineered to synchronize the supporting visuals that would accompany the telepresence communications of life-size digital embodiments of people.

Through the telepresence technologies architecture, each telepresence location would have a permanent IP connection to the telepresence operations center. This IP connection could automatically revert to a low bandwidth when the telepresence system is not in use for communication. The codec in each location could be much less expensive and simpler than standard video conference codecs since there would not be any need for a directory or dialing capabilities. The codec could be hardwired to automatically connect to the telepresence operations center when the power to the codec is turned on. With the telepresence technologies architecture users would be able to access a directory at the telepresence operations center that would list the telepresence locations and provide a current status of whether or not they were in use or available for a new telepresence communication. Through the telepresence technologies architecture, all connections between telepresence users would be connected and managed through the telepresence operations center.

Fig. 23 shows an asymmetrical arrangement, which has an off-axis line of sight 204 for the camera 1 in the customer location 205, while the camera in the presenter's location 174 has an on-axis line of sight 182. The customer 3 views the image of the presenter appearing to have a correct alignment for eye contact even though the customer location 202 has an off-axis view 203. This perceived eye contact alignment is achieved since the incoming image of the customer 3 is displayed at the location of the presenter 174 on the image display device 17 with the eyes of the customer aligned to the height for the line of sight 182 for achieving a perceived eye contact. Even though the camera in the customer location 202 is off-axis, the camera view 203 captures the image of the customer 3 with the eyes at the same height on the image.

As an example, the eyes of the presenter 176 may be at a position of two thirds of the height of the presenter's image. Also, the eyes of the customer 3 may be at the position of two thirds of the height of the customer's image, even though the camera 1 is off-axis capturing an image from slightly above the normal line of sight 182.

In this asymmetric communications solution the customer receives the added value of eye contact. The customer will feel the personal connection with the presenter through eye contact, which can instill a greater sense of trust and intimate presence. Even though the presenter will not have the same direct line of sight for eye contact, the presenter will still have a front view of the customer to read reactions to the marketing communication. The presenter may be selling a product or service with the primary objective of completing the business objectives, which does not require the same eye contact to achieve the goal.

In order to achieve optimal results, the eye contact configuration at the location of the presenter 174 should meet specific requirements. These requirements are illustrated in the "Telepresence Workstation and Telepresence Center" US patent application No. 60/846,415 by White. One requirement is that the camera 1 is not too close to the presenter 176. It is undesirable to have the camera too close to the presenter, which could cause wide angle distortion. This problem is overcome by having the camera 1 located close to the floor with a line of sight 177 viewing forward to a mirror 42. The mirror 42 reflects an upward facing line of sight 45 toward the two-way mirror 2, which is reflected forward along a line of sight 182. The line of sight 182 is aligned with the eye contact between the presenter 176 and the image of the customer 3 appearing on the image display device 17. A black panel 16 is positioned above the two-way mirror 2 to block the camera view through the two-way mirror. In this arrangement the image display device 17 is relatively close to the presenter 176 to allow for clear viewing of the incoming image from the customer location 201 while not requiring an excessively large area for the workstation.

Fig. 24 shows an embodiment of the present invention with both the camera 1 and the image display device 17 in front of the two-way mirror 2. In this configuration the camera 1 has an unobstructed angle of view 45 of the user 3. The user 3 has a line of sight 182 that achieves a perceived eye contact with a telepresent person appearing on the reflected image 5. This eye contact is aligned with the reflected line of sight 185 with the image display device 17. The camera 1 is viewed as a reflection in position 179 in front of the reflected image 5.

Fig. 25 shows an embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 positioned between an image display device 17 and a two-way mirror 2. The camera is positioned back far enough so that it is not blocking the reflected view 5 of the image display device 17. Furthermore, the camera 1 is positioned to have an unobstructed angle of view 45 of the user 3. The user has a perceived eye contact with a telepresent person displayed on the image display device by having a line of sight 182 that matches to the eye level of the telepresent person viewed as a reflection 5 off the two-way mirror 2 along the reflected line of sight 185.

Fig. 26 shows an embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 positioned between a two-way mirror 2 and a backdrop 8 with an unobstructed angle of view 45 of the user 3. The user 3 has a perceived eye contact with a telepresent person appearing on the image display device by way of a line of sight 182 that aligns with the level of the eyes of the telepresent person appearing on the image display device 17. The telepresent person may appear to be in front of a reflection 9 of a backdrop 8, which may produce a perception of depth between the image of the telepresent person and the reflected backdrop. The principles of the reflected backdrop are covered in the US patent No. 7,057,637 "Reflected Backdrop for Communications Systems" by White.

Fig. 27 shows an embodiment of the present invention in a configuration similar to Fig. 26, except that the arrangement is flipped vertically to position the camera below the two-way mirror 2 and the image display device 17.

Fig. 28 illustrates the present invention configured as a lectern with both the camera 1 and the image display device 17 in front of the two-way mirror 2. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of the customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along the line of sight 182 to the image 5, which is the image on the image display device 17 reflected by the two-way mirror 2. The two-way mirror 2 may be angled forward at approximately 45 degrees and the image display device may be approximately horizontal to produce a reflection that is vertical. However, the image display device 17 may be angled back to raise the front edge to minimize the direct view of the image area by the customer 3. If the image display is angled back at a given angle, it is necessary to angle back the two-way mirror at half of the given angle in order for the reflected image 5 to be in a vertical position. As an example, the arrangement in Fig. 28 shows the image display device 17 angled back at 10 degrees and the two-way mirror 2 angled back 5 degrees beyond 45 degrees to be a resulting angle of 50 degrees.

The camera 1 is forward of the two-way mirror 2 and therefore may be seen as a reflection in the two-way mirror. In Fig. 28 the camera 1 is housed in an enclosure 180, which is in the view of the customer 3 as a reflection 181. The enclosure 180 could be designed to be in integral part of the lectern 184, which could incorporate a banner with a company logo or the name of a speaker. The enclosure 180 could have a small hole for the camera to have the field of view 45. The reflected enclosure 181 could appear to be an integral part of the top of the lectern 184, which could appear to be a stand to hold the speakers notes.

The reflected image 5 may display a presenter to appear at the back edge of the lectern 184. The incoming image of the presenter may be captured against a black backdrop so that the displayed image will only be illuminated by the image of the presenter. In this manner the image area surrounding the presenter will not be visible since it is black and therefore the presenter will not appear to be contained within the frame of the image area. When there is a background 191 that is dimly illuminated the person will appear physically in front of the background 191. It is ideal for the background to be illuminated enough to be clearly visible to the audience while not being so bright that it burns through the superimposed image of the presenter 5. In practice it has been effective to have a dark blue curtain that is illuminated from the sides to provide contrasting illuminated blue folds of the curtain with dark shadowed areas to view depth cues between the position of the image of the presenter 5 and the background 181.

The reflected image plane 5 is only an image that is generated by the reflection of the image display device 17 reflected by the two-way mirror 2 as it is viewed by the customer 3. The space behind the lectern 184 is not encumbered by display equipment and is free for a person 187 to stand in this space. When there is no image on the image display device 17 there will not be a reflected image 5 to be viewed by the customer 3 or an audience. Therefore, it is possible for a person 187 to stand behind the lectern within the view of the audience. In a meeting application a person 187 could introduce a guest speaker who after the introduction could appear at the lectern in the reflected plane 5.

Fig. 29 illustrates the present invention configured as a lectern 184 with the camera 1 positioned forward of the two-way mirror 2 and positioned on the front of the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of the customer 3, which in some applications may include a large audience. The lectern 184 may be placed on a platform 183 for the audience to have a clear view of the presenter at the lectern. The customer 3 has a direct line of sight 182 for eye contact. It is relevant to note that the line of sight 182 does not need to be horizontal to achieve the perception of eye contact. With the incoming image of the presenter 5 captured on a workstation with a camera at the line of sight for eye contact, the presenter will be looking forward. The customer 3 will see the reflected image on the presenter 5 appearing as a flat image that is directly forward even though the line of sight 182 is slightly off-axis. Since the displayed image is flat the slight off-axis view will not see a different perspective of the presenter, whereas an off-axis view of the real presenter would see a different perspective of the real three dimensional person. Fig. 30 illustrates the present invention configured as a lectern 207 positioned on a platform 183 with the camera 1 located inside a mock podium 206 that is reflected in the two-way mirror 2. The platform accommodates a rear projection arrangement with a projector 189 projecting forward to a mirror 190 that reflects the projected image to a rear projection screen 188. The screen 188 could be horizontal or could be at an angle to make it less visible to the customer 3. In Fig. 30 the screen is angled at 10 degrees and the two-way mirror is angled at 50 degrees.

The camera 1 is located between the two-way mirror 2 and the rear projection screen 188 where it has an unobstructed view 45 of the customer 3. Since the camera 1 is in a position that may be within the view of the reflected image 5, it may be positioned within an enclosure 206. The enclosure 206 could appear to be an intentional part of the staging, such as a structure to hold a logo or meeting banner. The enclosure 206 may have a small hole for the camera to see the field of view 45. The enclosure 206 may be positioned to match to the location of a physical lectern 207. The reflected image of the enclosure 206 will be viewed superimposed into the same physical location as the lectern 207. To avoid the confusion of two superimposed images, either the lectern 207 or the enclosure 206 may be black to allow the other object to appear without a superimposed image. In order to provide a more visually intriguing three dimensional display the enclosure 206 and the lectern 207 may be partially open inside or be comprised of a transparent material so that the image of the presenter 5 may appear to be behind the physical object of the lectern 207.

In Fig. 30 the rear projection screen 188 may be large enough to display a head to toe person or close to the full body of a person at life-size. The reflected image 5 appears in the free space behind the lectern 207. It is possible for a real person 187 to stand within the reflected image plane of the presenter 5. The reflected image 5 may be large enough for a real person 187 to stand directly next to a life-size telepresent person for a two-way conversation.

Fig. 31 illustrates the present invention configured for the appearance of a head-to-toe image of a person 5 to appear in a three dimensional setting with a background 191. A camera 1 is positioned between a large two-way mirror 2 and an overhead rear projection screen 188. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. A projector 189 projects to a mirror 190 that reflects the projected image to a rear projection screen 188. The customer 3 may look forward along a line of sight 182 to see a perceived eye contact with a life-size person reflected into the plane 5. A real person may walk into the location of plane 5 and also have eye-to-eye contact with the customer 3.

Fig. 32 illustrates the present invention configured for the appearance of a head-to-toe image of a person 5 with a camera 1 positioned above a two-way mirror 2 and a front projection screen 104 below. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of the customer 3. The customer has a line of sight 182 with the image of the presenter appearing on the reflected image plane 5. The projector 189 projects onto the front projection screen 104 at an angle to position the projected image under the two-way mirror 2. It may be necessary for the projector 189 to use a lens shift and / or digital keystone correction to produce an image that is not distorted. A person 187 may stand in the reflected image plane 5. Fig. 33 illustrates the present invention configured as a service counter with a camera 1 positioned between the two-way mirror 2 and the overhead image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of the customer 3. The customer 3 has a line of sight 182 for a perceived eye contact with a presenter appearing on the reflected image plane 5. The image display device 17 is enclosed within a supporting structure 193. The image display device may be horizontal or may be angled up to be less visible to the customer 3. In Fig. 94 the image display device 17 is angled at 10 degrees and the two way mirror is angled at 50 degrees. The enclosure 193 may have exterior graphics 194.

Below the eye contact display device may be a service counter 195. The service counter could incorporate a computer 154 and a printer 178, which could be controlled remotely by the presenter appearing in plane 5. In business applications the printer 178 could print out boarding passes, luggage tags, receipts, product information, maps, reservations, or any other printed material that would be of value to the customer 3.

Fig. 34 illustrates the present invention in Fig. 33 with the two-way mirror 2 rotated upwards to allow a person 187 to work at the service counter 195. The rotated two-way mirror 2 would become the bottom of the overhead enclosure 193. When the two-way mirror 2 is rotated upwards the counter 195 can be used in a normal fashion with the presence of a real person 187. The computer 154 and printer 178 can be used with the keyboard 94 by the person 187.

Fig. 35 illustrates the present invention configured as a service counter 195 with a camera 1 between a two-way mirror 2 and an image display device 17 located below. The camera has an unobscured view 45 of the customer 3. The customer 3 has a line of sight 182 for eye contact with a presenter appearing as a reflected image 5. The service counter may have a printer 178 and a computer 154, which could be controlled by the presenter appearing in the reflected image plane 5. The arrangement of Fig. 35 has the advantage over the arrangement of Fig. 33 in that there is not any overhead apparatus. However, the arrangement of Fig. 35 may not be as well suited to usage by a real person as illustrated in Fig. 34.

Fig. 36 illustrates the present invention configured as a service counter with a camera 1 located above a two-way mirror 2 with the image display device 17 positioned below and a keyboard 94 and data monitor 69 for interaction with a customer 3. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the reflected image plane 5. A computer 154 and printer 178 may be remotely controlled by the presenter. The customer may input information, such as their name and password, for communication with the presenter.

Fig. 37 illustrates the present invention positioned above retail shelving 91 with a camera 1 positioned between a two- way mirror 2 and an overhead image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the reflected image plane 5. The retail shelves 91 below the eye contact communications apparatus may display retail products. A promotional sales banner 194 may be positioned on the exterior of the enclosure 193. Fig. 38 illustrates the present invention positioned above an interactive computer based kiosk 192 with a camera 2 positioned between a two-way mirror 2 and an overhead image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the reflected image plane 5. A logo or sign 194 may be positioned on the exterior of the enclosure 193. A customer may input data into a computer 154 with a keyboard 94 and view the computer screen 69. This computer 154 may be connected by a network to a computer database for access to a vast amount of information. Also, the computer 154 may be connected with a network with a computer operated by the presenter appearing at the reflected image plane 5. With this arrangement the presenter can engage in eye contact communication with a customer 3 while sharing visual information and data with the customer. Since both parties can interact with the data, the communication may be interactive. The resulting information may be printed for the customer 3 on the printer 178.

Fig. 39 illustrates the present invention configured as a desk 164 with a camera 1 positioned between a two-way mirror 2 and an overhead image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the reflected image plane 5. The customer can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69.

Fig. 40 illustrates the present invention configured as a desk 164 with a camera 1 positioned above the two-way mirror 2. The camera 2 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the reflected image plane 5. The customer 3 can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69.

Fig. 41 illustrates the present invention configured as a desk 164 with the camera 1 positioned above the two-way mirror 2 with the image display device 17 and a backdrop 8 reflected in an image plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the image display device 17. The customer 3 can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69. The arrangement can be positioned close to a wall 196 to conserve space, however the reflected backdrop 9 will provide the perception of a greater depth beyond the wall 196.

Fig. 42 illustrates the present invention configured as a desk 164 with a small image display device 17 behind a two-way mirror 2 with a small camera 1 above the two-way mirror 2 and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear in a plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the image display device 17. The customer 3 can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69. The arrangement can be positioned close to a wall 196 to conserve space, however the reflected backdrop 9 will provide the perception of a greater depth beyond the wall 196.

Fig. 43 illustrates the present invention configured as a conference table system 197 with a camera 1 located above a two-way mirror 2 with an image display device 17 located behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear on a plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the image display device 17. The customer 3 can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69.

Fig. 44 illustrates retail shelving 91 under the present invention with a camera 1 positioned above a two-way mirror 2 with an image display device 17 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear in a plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the image display device 17. The presenter can promote the products on display on the retail shelves for the customer to select for purchase.

Fig. 45 illustrates a computer based kiosk 192 under the present invention with a camera 1 positioned above a two-way mirror 2 with an image display device 17 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear on a plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the image display device 17. The customer 3 can interact with the presenter with a computer 154 using a keyboard 94 and monitor 69.

Fig. 46 illustrates an automatic teller machine 198 incorporating the present invention with a camera 1 above a two-way mirror 2 with an image display device 17 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear on a plane 9 behind the image display device 17. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a bank representative on the image display device 17. The customer 3 can interact with the banker with a touch screen 209 to control a computer 154. A cash dispenser 97 is incorporated into the ATM 198.

Fig. 47 illustrates a customer representative kiosk as shown in Fig. 46 with a backdrop 8 curved to meet the two-way mirror 2 so that the reflected backdrop 9 appears to be a continuation of the backdrop 8.

Fig. 48 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 located above the two-way mirror 2 with an image of a front projection screen 104 and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear in a plane 9 behind the screen 104. The plane of the reflected backdrop 9 may match a wall 196 to provide the perception of the backdrop being an extension of a portion of the back wall of the room. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the front projection screen 104.

Fig. 49 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 located above the two-way mirror 2 with a rear projection screen 188 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear on a plane 9 behind the screen 188. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the rear projection screen 188. The rear projection may use a mirror 190 to reflect the projection to a second mirror 199 to reflect the projection further to the rear projection screen 188. Fig. 50 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 located above the two-way mirror 9 with a front projection screen 104 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear in a plane 9 behind the front projection screen 104.

Fig. 51 illustrates a large scale embodiment of the present invention with a camera 1 located above the two-way mirror 9 with a rear projection screen 188 behind and a backdrop 8 reflected to appear in a plane 9 behind the rear projection screen 188. The camera 1 has an unobscured view 45 of a customer 3. The customer 3 has a perceived eye contact along a line of sight 182 with an image of a presenter on the rear projection screen 188. The rear projection may use a mirror 190 to reflect the projection to a second mirror 199 to reflect the projection further to the rear projection screen 188.

Fig. 52 illustrates a kiosk embodiment similar to Fig. 45. In this embodiment the kiosk 192 is a free standing structure that is separate from the wall 196 and ceiling 210. The part of the surface of the ceiling 210 that is directly above the kiosk is a surface 8 that serves as the backdrop to be reflected in the vertical position 9, which matches to the surface of the wall 196. The customer 3 sees the wall 196 surrounding the area of the two way mirror 2 and sees a reflection of the backdrop surface 8 reflected into the vertical plane 9 matching the surface of the wall 196. The combination of the reflected backdrop 9 and the wall 196 viewed on the same plane may give the impression of a seamless surface. However, an image displayed on the monitor 17 will appear in front of this combination of wall 196 and reflected backdrop 9.

The embodiment of Fig. 52 may be used in service desk or receptionist counters where it is advantageous to hide the display equipment and generate the perception of a service representative appearing available to serve customers. The furniture of the kiosk 192 may be designed to be compatible with the decor of office, hotel or store. In particular, the counter 211 may be visible through the two way mirror 2 so that the service representative displayed on the monitor 17 would appear directly behind the counter. A camera 1 would have a view through the two way mirror 2 so that the camera would not be visible to the customer 3. A black panel 212 would be placed directly below the camera to avoid the superimposition of an image as a reflection off the two way mirror 2. A data monitor 69 may be positioned in front of the two way mirror 2. This data monitor will not obscure much of the view of the customer representative since the data monitor 69 will not be the same width as the monitor 17.

In Fig. 52 a light 213 may be positioned at an equal distance from the wall 196 and the ceiling 210. In this manner the light falling on the wall and the ceiling will be from the same angle. This may cause the light on the surface of the backdrop 8 and the light on the wall 196 to be the same. In this way the reflected backdrop surface 9 and the wall 196 may have illumination from the same angle to support the perception of a seamless wall surface.

Fig. 53 is a front view of the configuration illustrated in Fig. 52. A camera 1 is positioned above the image display device 17. This camera 1 may alternatively be behind the two way mirror. The two way mirror 2 is angled to reflect the backdrop 8 located in the ceiling 210. A light 213 is positioned below the ceiling where it can illuminate the zone for a user 3. The kiosk 192 has a supporting structure below the counter 211. A data monitor 69 may be positioned in front of the two way mirror 2. Alternatively it may be behind the two way mirror to protect the monitor from vandalism.

Fig. 54 illustrates an embodiment of the present invention with a backdrop 8 placed in or on the floor that appears as a reflected backdrop 9 in a vertical plane at the location of the wall 196. The image on the image display device 17 will appear in front of the wall 196. A panel 214 may be located above two way mirror 2 so that the view of the camera 1 through the two way mirror will view a black surface. Alternatively, the plane 16 may be a black surface. The camera is placed on the floor or close to the floor with a view forward to a mirror 42 to reflect the view upwards to the two way mirror 2 and then toward the user 3. The camera 1 may be contained within an enclosure 215 that is dark or black so that it does not superimpose into the image viewed by the user 3.

Fig. 55 illustrates a plan view of the configuration in Fig. 54. The backdrop 8 on the floor will appear as a reflection in the vertical plane of the wall 196. A person seated to the side 217 would have a line of sight 216 that would be blocked by the image display device 17. The backdrop 8 is wide enough to provide a reflected image to cover the wide of the wall 196 to the extent of the line of sight 216. A person on the other side 218 would have a line of sight 219 that would not be blocked as much by the image display device 17 and therefore would see more of the wall 196. With the width of the backdrop 8 being wide enough for the line of sight 216, there would be some overlap of the reflected backdrop 8 and the wall 196. In order to avoid an undesirable superimposition of the reflected backdrop 8 and the wall 196 the pattern on each may be produced to superimpose in an acceptable manner. This may be achieved in the use of interlaced patterns or designs that incorporate a dark background with a random or organized pattern of lighter image areas or feathered edges.

Numerous inventive applications and methods are also contemplated within the broad scope of the present invention. While not intended to be limiting or exhaustive, certain exemplary applications are discussed in the following paragraphs. The telepresence technologies architecture described above can be adapted to allow telepresence users, for a fee, to enter virtual social venues managed by the telepresence operations center where they could meet people in chat rooms or prearranged meetings face-to-face for interaction with eye contact and natural human communication through facial expressions and body language to get to know people through telepresence for intellectual dialogue, dating, or intimate experiences. In another embodiment, users could, for a fee, take part in games, competitions, and entertainment that would involve the eye to eye contact with another person with a shared display of live computer graphics on the second image display device for participation from telepresence users connected from any location in the world to the telepresence operations center.

The telepresence technologies architecture described above may be configured to meet global standards for telepresence and to have additional capabilities for specific applications in financial services where the transmission would be encrypted on a dedicated and secure network of a financial institution with a closely controlled telepresence operations center to deliver confidential financial information from banking centers to branch banks. This embodiment would preferably provide bank managers and financial specialists in the location of the financial centers to provide personal services face-to-face with key customers in remote locations with the sharing of critical financial information on the second image display device, along with additional equipment to print contracts and digitally scan and transmit signed contracts. The system preferably includes the equipment and systems to dispense money, cashier checks and other financial documents through the financial institutions telepresence operations center.

Another embodiment of the telepresence technologies architecture provides for telepresence communications systems to be used by medical technicians, physicians and practitioners at any location in the world to connect to the telepresence global network to reach the telepresence operations center where they can offer services to potential patients who would come to pharmacies and medical facilities where they could have an examination, medical test or refill of a prescription at an appointment with a certified physician through telepresence for a face-to-face evaluation. The physician could remotely operate specialist equipment to take blood pressure, cholesterol level, temperature, blood sugar level and other fundamental tests so that the physician could make new prescriptions or refill prescriptions and have the medicine automatically dispensed from the adjoining pharmacy to the patient upon payment through a credit card reader.

In another embodiment, the above described telepresence technologies architecture could be used by lecturers, professors, trainers and public speakers to transmit their presentations over a telepresence network connection to the telepresence operations center to have the presentation digitally recorded and stored as life-size appearances with synchronized visual support for playback to groups, audiences and classes that would view the telepresence presentation for a fee. The presenter could schedule through the telepresence operations center to appear at the end of the presentation to appear live for questions and answers, which would allow the presenter to maximize time and generate income from prerecorded presentations.

Yet another contemplated embodiment for the telepresence technologies architecture is telepresence communications systems produced to the global telepresence standard that could be installed in major business locations throughout the world so that people seeking a job or considering a change in employment could pay to use a room with a telepresence communications system that was connected over a telepresence network connection to the telepresence operations center. Appointments could be scheduled by employment agencies or through employment websites for interviews between applicants in one location and employers in another location with the potential for the applicant to take tests delivered through the telepresence operations center for display on the second image display device with networked services for immediate results and the potential for the applicant to a transmitted into the room for a face-to-face interview with the review board or hiring committee.

Still another contemplated embodiment includes the telepresence technologies architecture described above wherein the telepresence communications systems meeting the global telepresence standards can be installed in locations where security companies want to have the presence of guards, but recognize that the guards would not have an active role in security unless a security sensor was trigger. The system could display a digital recording of a security guard in the location for the majority of the time and would instantly switch to a live telepresence of a guard in the location if a security sensor was triggered so that the telepresent guard could see and evaluate the situation, have dialogue with people present and remotely activate alarms, lights and unlock or lock doors. It should be understood that the drawings and detailed description herein are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive manner, and are not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms and examples disclosed. On the contrary, the invention includes any further modifications, changes, rearrangements, substitutions, alternatives, design choices, and embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention, as defined by the following claims. Thus, it is intended that the following claims be interpreted to embrace all such further modifications, changes, rearrangements, substitutions, alternatives, design choices, and embodiments. For instance, the above described embodiments could include a microphone adapted to receive sound from the observation zone and a speaker adapted to output sound to the observation zone. A communication device receiving video images from a camera and compressing said video images for an outgoing transmission on a network to a second communication system in a remote location and a communication device receiving an incoming transmission received over a network from said second communication system in said remote location and producing therefrom a video image to be displayed on said image display device is also contemplated. Other variations include a communications system wherein the backdrop two-way mirror, and said light-absorbing panel fold into a supporting structure when not in use; or a communications system wherein said two-way mirror and said light-absorbing panel can be folded down to form a working desk with a direct view of said image display device. The communications may include a keyboard, mouse or other interactive device to allow control of the communications system and/or access interactive visual and audio material. The communications system may be adapted for a business transaction and further comprise a kiosk incorporating said image display device, said two-way mirror, and said camera, said kiosk further comprising a credit card reader, a product dispensing device, and storage space for the promotion and distribution of products. Yet other variations and modifications will be apparent to one skilled in the art through routine experimentation and are considered and intended to be within the scope of the following claims.

Claims

WHAT WE CLAIM IS:
1. A telepresence workstation comprising: a two-way mirror; a display device positioned to be viewable from an observation zone, the display device being in a predetermined spatial relationship with the two-way mirror; and a camera positioned a physical distance from the observation zone and a having a line of sight between the camera and the observation zone, the line of sight defining an optical distance within the physical distance that is substantially longer than the physical distance, wherein the optical distance is predetermined to minimize distortion of an image captured by the camera of the observation zone.
2. The telepresence workstation of claim 1 wherein the predetermined spatial relationship is selected from the display device being positioned behind the two-mirror, relative the observation zone, and the display device being positioned to reflect off the two-way mirror, relative the observation zone.
3. The telepresence workstation of claim 1 further comprising an observer in the observation zone.
4. The telepresence workstation of claim 1 wherein the line of sight comprises the two-way mirror being optically between the observation zone and a second mirror, the second mirror being optically between the two-way mirror and the camera.
5. The telepresence workstation of claim 1 wherein the optical distance is at least about twice the physical distance.
6. A telepresence communications system comprising: a first telepresence station having: an observation zone; a camera having a first line of sight impinging upon the observation zone, the camera being positioned such that the line of sight of the camera is on axis with a second line of sight of a user when the user is occupying the observation zone; an image display device being within the line of sight of the user when the user is occupying the observation zone; a second telepresence station having: a second observation zone; a second camera having a third line of sight impinging upon the second observation zone, the second camera being positioned such that the third line of sight of the second camera is off axis with a fourth line of sight of a second user when the second user is occupying the second observation zone; and a second image display device being within the fourth line of sight of the second user when the second user is occupying the second observation zone.
7. The telecommunications system of claim 6 further comprising: a two-way mirror within the second line of sight of a user; and a backdrop positioned such that a reflection of the backdrop is reflected off the two-way mirror and is superimposed upon an image displayed upon the image display device.
8. The telecommunications system of claim 7 wherein the reflection of the backdrop provides depth cues to a user occupying the observation zone.
9. The telecommunications system of claim 6 wherein the camera is positioned a physical distance from the observation zone and further wherein the line of sight of the camera follows an optical path that defines an optical distance from the observation zone, the optical distance being greater than the physical distance and being sufficient to reduce distortion of an image of a user occupying the observation zone captured by the camera.
10. A method of display comprising: displaying an image on an image display device, the image display device being observable from an observation zone, the image display device being observable through a two-way mirror relative the observation zone, the image appearing substantially within a first plane when viewed from the observation zone; and reflecting off the two-way mirror a backdrop to form a reflected backdrop, the reflected backdrop being superimposed with the image on the display when viewed from the observation zone and appearing in substantially within a second plane when viewed from the observation zone, the second a plane being substantially parallel to the first plane and appearing further from the observation zone than the first plane.
11. The method of claim 10 wherein the backdrop is formed integrally with a portion of a ceiling overlying the two- way mirror or formed integrally with a portion of a floor underlying the two-way mirror.
12. The method of claim 10 further comprising positioning an observer in the observation zone to view an image on the image display device and the superimposed reflected backdrop.
13. The method of claim 11 wherein the backdrop has a surface that substantially matches a surface of a wall positioned behind the image display device.
14. The method of claim 11 wherein the wall is at least partially visible through the two-way mirror.
15. The image display system of claim 10 wherein the reflected backdrop obscures at least a portion of the image display device that would otherwise be observable from the observation zone.
PCT/US2007/079207 2006-09-22 2007-09-21 3-d displays and telepresence systems and methods therefore WO2008036931A2 (en)

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US60/846,415 2006-09-22
US85506506P true 2006-10-27 2006-10-27
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US96844707P true 2007-08-28 2007-08-28
US60/968,447 2007-08-28

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JP2009529416A JP2010504709A (en) 2006-09-22 2007-09-21 Three-dimensional display and telepresentation system and method
EP07843007A EP2064866A4 (en) 2006-09-22 2007-09-21 3-d displays and telepresence systems and methods therefore

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JP2010504709A (en) 2010-02-12
WO2008036931A3 (en) 2008-07-17
EP2064866A2 (en) 2009-06-03
EP2064866A4 (en) 2011-01-12

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