How New Hologram Tech Could Change Interactions in the Future

Reach out and touch someone?

Key Takeaways

  • You might soon be able to feel holograms as well as see them. 
  • The growing field of holographic technology could change the way we communicate. 
  • WayRay recently showed off its new Deep Reality Display that it says can replace the traditional car dashboard with a holographic display.
A architect looking at a holographic rendering of a building.

Henrik Sorensen / Getty Images

Holograms could soon be more like the holodecks of Star Trek.

Researchers have developed a hologram that allows you to reach out and "feel" it. It's part of the growing field of holographic technology that could change the way we communicate. 

"Eventually it may be possible to create holographic theater that is more realistic and less cumbersome than the Google cardboard or Oculus Go systems, which can cause vertigo," Paul J. Joseph, a professor of mass communications at Methodist University in North Carolina who was not involved in the study, told Lifewire in an email interview.

Beam Me Up

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have developed a system of holograms of people using "aerohaptics," creating feelings of touch with jets of air, according to a recently published paper.  The air blowing on people's fingers, hands, and wrists deliver a sensation of touch. 

The system is based around a pseudo-holographic display that uses glass and mirrors to make a two-dimensional image appear to hover in space—a modern variation on a 19th-century illusion technique known as Pepper's Ghost.

"The advancement of holographic technology opens up a whole new world that has the power to...help to level the playing field between the haves and have nots,"

The system could be developed to allow you to meet an avatar of a stranger on the other side of the world and feel their handshake. 

"We believe aerohaptics could form the basis for many new applications in the future, such as creating convincing, interactive 3D renderings of real people for teleconferences," Professor Ravinder Dahiya of the University of Glasgow and one of the paper's authors said in a news release.

"It could help teach surgeons to perform tricky procedures in virtual spaces during their training, or even allow them to command robots to do the surgeries for real," he added. 

Holograms could be for more than just business meetings, Hayes Mackaman, the CEO of 8i, a VR software company focused on holograms, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

"They can be applied to engage in highly immersive training and education, personal fitness, all forms of entertainment and even memory capture—and can also be streamed and viewed from any device that supports a browser," he added.  

"The advancement of holographic technology opens up a whole new world that has the power to democratize access to learning, put you in the front row of a concert, and help to level the playing field between the haves and have nots," Mackaman said. 

Someone interacting with a holographic display.

Colin Anderson Productions pty ltd / Getty Images

New Hologram Techniques

Holograms are rapidly getting more advanced. Last year, PORTL launched an AI-powered hologram projection system.

"For the first time in history, you can converse with an artificially intelligent hologram beamed into a human-sized hologram projection machine and ask them anything, anywhere, at any time," said David Nussbaum, CEO of PORTL, in a press release. "The possibilities are wide open, given the power ofStoryFile'ss A.I. and the life-like quality of these holograms. I'm looking forward to seeing what the world does with this"

MIT scientists recently announced "tensor holography," a new way to instantly produce holograms, which was previously impossible. 

The company WayRay recently showed off its new Deep Reality Display that it says can replace the traditional car dashboard with a holographic display. The display shows different parts of the virtual image at different distances.

For drivers, the Deep Reality Display means an extra focus on the road with the advanced driver-assistance system, plus subtle entertainment features with no distractions, the company claims. The system ensures that the driver is only shown selective True AR apps, most suitable to the traffic situation and context at the exact moment. "All of these technologies represent significant leaps forward that will allow holograms to provide an exceptional representation of the world around you not only in VR but also in AR and mixed reality—without the eye strain and nausea that's held back virtual reality," Mackaman said.

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