Holographic telepresence technology may mean a cutback in business travel and easier telecommuting.
Remember when Princess Leia’s hologram delivered a message to General Kenobi?
The future is now.
Beam yourself across the world
The growth in video communication has been exponential. Skype now boasts 300 million users, and a 2012 Ipsos/Reuters poll revealed one in five people worldwide now frequently “telecommuted” to work. But Star Trek fans will be happy to hear that incoming technology will add a further dimension to international conference calls. Known as holographic telepresence, it involves transmitting a three-dimensional moving image of you at each destination – allowing you to converse as if you were in the room. One system from Musion, based in Britain, uses Pepper’s Ghost, an effect popular with illusionists, to beam moving images onto sloped glass. Musion has already digitally resurrected rapper Tupac Shakur at a music festival. But full 3D holographic communication is not far behind – in the shape of the Polish company Leia. Named after the Star Wars princess, its Leia Display XL uses laser projectors to beam images onto a cloud of water vapour. The result is a walk-in holographic room, in which 3D objects can be viewed and manipulated from every angle. An IBM survey of 3,000 researchers recently named holographic video calls as one technology they expected to see in place in the next year or so.
It might also make telecommuting more attractive in some situations. If this technology had been available years ago, I may have been able to continue telecommuting. As it was, my boss at the time asked me to go back to showing up at the office five days a week after I had tried working partly from home for about a year. Since it meant a three-hour daily commute while parenting young children, I resigned that job in favor of a better quality of life. Future workers may have better choices.
- Long hours may explain why educated women quit the workforce – ‘the time divide’ (Cost of College)
- For $95,000 You Can Create Your Own Princess Leia Hologram (wired.com)