Friday, May 10, 2013

The future is here

Science and engineering aside, what is the first thing that you think of when the idea of 3D holographic images comes to mind? Star Wars? The Jetsons? Red Dwarf? For decades, the idea of 3D holography has been referenced in pop culture. So when William Hanna and Joseph Barbera portrayed the Jetsons’ using holographic televisions and telephones in 2062, just how grounded in reality were these depictions?

As it turns out, the Hanna-Barbera duo was onto something.

3D holograms are already being used to create maps that enable soldiers and commanders to navigate the terrain in which they are operating without 3D glasses or goggles. The same technology could be making its way into people’s homes and offices sooner than Hanna and Barbera might have thought.

A job listing from Microsoft suggests that the company is working on telepresence technology that would depict a virtual hologram of the person on the other end of a conversation. In other words, Microsoft is reportedly bringing 3D holograms to Skype, says Laptop Mag.

We’ve seen similar technology developed already, as researchers at Queen’s University created a human-sized 3D videoconferencing system that allows people in different locations to communicate as if they were face to face. But with the Skype hologram technology, no pods and no sensors would be involved.

Needless to say, this could revolutionize the way that offsite colleagues and business partners interact with one another. On one hand, it would be beneficial for those who are unable to meet in person for one reason or another. Meeting and chatting face-to-face and in person is something that cannot be replaced. But on the other hand, will the technology begin to erode the need for a common, shared workplace? Conjecture, no doubt, but it is interesting to think about.

In considering some of the advances involving 3D technology we’ve seen of late, what’s next? Here's what I'm thinking.

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