Holographs could be 'game changer' for business

Researchers taking holographic images from sci-fi to real-world applications

A CEO needs to meet with workers in a remote office, but instead of boarding a plane, she simply employs her hologram.

That scenario could be reality in the not-so-distant future, according to researchers at the University of Arizona . Scientists there have developed a new type of holographic telepresence that's designed to project a three-dimensional, full-color, moving image without viewers needing to sport 3D glasses .

While the technology could be used in TV or movies, it also could be used in advertising, telemedicine and mapping, as well as in everyday corporate meetings.

"Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world," said Nasser Peyghambarian , who led the research effort at the university. "Let's say I want to give a presentation in New York. All I need is an array of cameras here in my Tucson office and a fast Internet connection. At the other end, in New York, there would be the 3D display using our laser system."

In the prototype of the holographic imaging technology, the image is recorded using an array of regular cameras, each one viewing the object from a different angle. The more cameras that are used, the more granular the holographic image will be.

Then using fast-pulsed laser beams, a holographic, or three-dimensional, pixel is created. These pixels are the building blocks of the images, according to the university.

Everything is fully automated and insensitive to vibration, making it suitable for industrial situations, said Peyghambarian.

Taking holographic imaging from the world of science fiction to the real world could be a significant advancement for business, said Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group.

"It can be a game changer in some industries," he added. "There will certainly be plenty of business uses for this technology. The first that come to mind are product demonstrations and giving the ability to actually see a product in 3-D before the money is spent to build it. It also could, for instance, immerse prospective tenants in their new office suite or show hotel mavens the interior decorator's vision for their remodeled rooms."

If the technology becomes common, it also could greatly decrease the need for business travel. Instead of flying across the country to make a presentation, a business person could simply make the presentation through a hologram.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

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