Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute presented the Virtual Eye Contact Engine for the first time to the public at 3D Stereo Media 2010. This prototype demonstrator allows the user to perceive direct eye contact with a remote party although the user is captured by cameras mounted on top of the display. The eye contact problem is one of the key drawbacks of current video conferencing systems and is caused by the fact that the cameras cannot be mounted at a position where the user is looking at, i.e. the centre of the display. By applying a real-time 3D analysis on multiple camera views and a succeeding virtual view rendering, it is possible to create a novel view of a camera virtually placed at the centre of the display. The perception of eye contact awareness strongly depends on the quality of the depth estimation and on the rendering of a novel view in high quality and high resolution. This is convincingly offered by the presented system.
Several components of the Virtual Eye Contact Engine are based on research performed in the European research project FP7 3DPresence, Proposal no.: FP7-215269.