The words “Beam me up, Scotty!” were first heard fifty years ago in the original “Star Trek”, and although we haven’t yet been able to actually use such magic, developments are far closer than we might have imagined back then. In fact, the holodeck, seen first in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was the go-to tool for experiencing any time and place with startling realism and immersion.
Fast forward to 2012. Remember Tupac Shakur’s songs with Snoop Dogg at the Coachella Festival in California? The thing is, he wasn’t there… but there he was!
The same general astonishment arose when a holographic Michael Jackson performed at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. Both ‘performances’ were based on the Pepper’s ghost illusion, which uses glass sheets to reflect images onto another screen, giving the illusion of something being projected into a viewing area – believable at the time, if only from some distance.
Scroll on to 2019 and it looks like holograms are going to be used regularly to recreate headline performers, even if they aren’t actually with us any more. The technology has moved on, though – Tupac and the other early versions look rather rough and ready now.
Aussie table rules
An Australian company Euclideon has invested the proceeds of its geospatial graphics software into a new hologram game business. CEO Bruce Dell has spoken about hologram tables the company is rolling out as essentially being sophisticated boardroom toys for the executive who has everything, but which will also be used as super-fast geospatial tools for city-sized infrastructure project presentations.
The true innovation is how this technology can create a new perspective on holograms. Or, more to the point, how it can create eight different perspectives, each of which offers fast, real-time rendering of the smallest of details in a large-scale 3D setting – and that is without having to use powerful gaming laptops or graphics cards. To participate, users only require a small pair of motion-trackable sunglasses, similar to the 3D glasses used in cinemas.
This breakthrough could revolutionise industries such as arcade gaming, especially for genres like racing and simulations. The opportunities are also enriching for top-end virtual gaming such as visiting an online casino where existing technology can be enhanced to immerse the player in the event – in this case, entering through the lobby, exploring the layout of the gaming tables and playing Live Roulette in real-time while chatting to a croupier. It can also recreate the slower speed of real-time casino experience, as opposed to simply sitting at home and pressing a button to spin a wheel. every few seconds. Being immersed in the experience becomes an experience in itself.
5G data transfer is a great enabler. UK network provider, Vodafone, recently used a holographic demonstration to launch its 5G service. Female football Stephanie Houghton appeared as a hologram from the company’s Manchester HQ to give football tips to an 11-year-old girl in a town some 120 miles away.
See me, feel me, touch me…
Add to that the progress being made in haptic technology and before too long, the icing on the cake will be built-in multi-sensory feedback: not only will we be able to see and hear our virtual surroundings but also smell, touch and taste what’s happening. As digital beings roam Earth in the (not-so) distant future, it will, of course, be known as the ‘hologramassic’ era!