Why You Could Soon Be Communicating By Hologram

Taking chat to the next level

Key Takeaways

  • Companies claim that you will soon be able to communicate by beaming an image of yourself via hologram. 
  • ARHT Media says it’s partnering with WeWork to allow holographic presentations to coworking spaces around the world. 
  • Some manufacturers are also working on ways to allow holographic communications on smartphones.
A couple having a conversation, one person in holographic form.

Matt Bird / Getty Images

Your business meetings could soon take place via hologram. 

ARHT Media, a hologram technology company, recently announced a partnership with WeWork to integrate holographic presentations to coworking spaces worldwide. It’s part of a growing movement to make holograms useful for communications, but experts say that it’s most useful for businesses for now. 

HoloPresence refers to stage presentations where a person appears in a remote location via some holographic projection technology that typically requires specialized stationary capture and projection equipment with stringent lighting conditions, Joe Ward, the CEO of holographic development company IKIN, said in an email interview. 

"For ordinary users, this may be a great addition to a conference or educational opportunity, but not very practical for everyday use," Ward added. "Portable real-time holographic display solutions that work in all lighting conditions will enhance emotional engagement and provide new levels of interaction."

Meetings Could Be More Fun With Holograms

In specific WeWork locations, ARHT Media will host a "Capture Studio" for users to record and stream events in which they can appear live on one of three types of displays: HoloPresence, for in-person holographic events; HoloPod, for in-person permanent holographic display; or online, as a Virtual Global Stage presentation—or a combination of all three.

"Bringing ARHT Media’s HoloPresence technology to our locations was a natural progression in our ongoing efforts to redefine the future of work," said Hamid Hashemi, WeWork’s chief product and experience officer, in a news release.

"All it takes, at the basic level, is a green screen and a couple of cameras, and an individual can be beamed holographically to a remote location."

"As the world increasingly craves the energy and productivity that in-person interactions deliver, we believe this technology will play a critical role, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this new offering."  

Chatting via hologram sounds like science fiction, but it’s closer to reality than you might think. Companies like ARHT Media and PORTL are developing technologies that can beam holographic images of people in real-time to anywhere in the world. 

"All it takes, at the basic level, is a green screen and a couple of cameras, and an individual can be beamed holographically to a remote location," Attila Tomaschek, a researcher at privacy education and review website ProPrivacy, said in an email interview.

"Hologram booths and 'HoloPods' are making it not only possible, but also feasible to beam individuals from one location to another and significantly enhance our virtual interactions."

Tomaschek said he expects hologram communications to be available to consumers within a decade. "Consumers will be able to use the technology to virtually make presentations at events all over the world from anywhere in real-time," he added.

"They also will be able to visit colleagues, friends, and loved ones virtually, regardless of location, and network more effectively in a virtual or hybrid setting."

Beam Yourself Around the World

It’s not just business meetings that could benefit from holograms. HoloPresence has the potential to transform education, Hayes Mackaman, CEO of 8i, a VR software company, said in an email interview.  

A homeschool student listening to a holographic lecture.

fotostorm / Getty Images

"Access to quality education will no longer be determined primarily by conditions that in many cases are completely outside of the control of the user," Mackaman said.

"The only limitation for users will be their access to low-cost HMDs (head-mounted displays) and not their ability to afford costly tuition or gain employment through wealthy and forward-thinking employers."

Holograms also could improve remote communication. "Right now, our ability to connect, understand, and empathize with each other is limited by our widely available tools like text and 2D video," Mackaman said. "These tools limit our ability to stand in another person's shoes, yet amplify our ability to misunderstand each other."

While you’ll need to use finicky and expensive equipment to make use of most HoloPresence technology, some companies are working on ways to bring holograms to mobile phones. 

IKIN, for example, is using machine learning to optimize the holographic experience for the bandwidth and processor capacity of mobile phones. The IKIN RYZ display can be attached to your smartphone. The company said the display will be available next year. 

"Portable real-time holographic display solutions that work in all lighting conditions will enhance emotional engagement and provide new levels of interaction," Ward said. "IKIN’s RYZ solutions work with mobile phones to provide personal holographic communications for any user in nearly any light."

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