6 cool innovations we're still waiting for

Flying cars were always a pie-in-the-sky proposition, but hologram calls and many other bold tech ideas have hit snags.

Hologram calls

tech broken promises hologram phone call

The hope: Soon we'll be chatting with our friends in life-size, 3-D, holographic form -- beamed right into our living rooms! Even cell phones will pop out little avatar versions of the person at the other end of the line.

The reality: Video chat services like Skype and Apple's (AAPL) FaceTime are something of a replacement for, er, face time. But hologram calls remain relegated to sci-fi movies and experimental labs.

What's the deal? Until very recently, the technology required to create hologram calls was overly complicated and expensive. 3-D was still a pipe dream. Videos were too large to transmit quickly.

Now, all of those technologies exist in our living rooms -- and researchers are harnessing those advances in order to develop hologram technology. It's still experimental and expensive, and most consumer Internet speeds are still too slow to make 3-D videos stream reliably. But the tech is getting close.

The Human Media Lab at Canada's Queen's University is working on holographic chat called "TeleHuman," which uses Microsoft (MSFT) Kinect sensors, a 3-D projector, and cylindrical displays. RGBD Toolkit, which is backed by Carnegie Mellon, works with Kinect-DSLR camera combinations.

  @julpepitone - Last updated April 02 2013 06:26 AM ET

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