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The future of hologram is becoming more real

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In reality, the use of holograms still seems like a technology reserved for science fiction rather than everyday life. Telecommunications are advancing at a rapid pace: 5G will allow data retransmission to occur even faster than it does now and in real time.

For that reason, holographic technology is getting closer to becoming a form of communication like any other. In this article we will tell you all about holograms and the fields of application in which they will be used. We also review the most innovative technology projects in Spain and the challenges it faces in the future.

The exciting and unknown world of holograms

Holograms are images obtained using holography, a laser illumination technique that produces three-dimensional color images. Although the application of holograms is relatively new, the discipline is actually more than 60 years old: the physicist Dennis Gabor published his theory of holography in 1947, a study that won him the Nobel Prize in physics.

Fifteen years later, the Americans Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks created a hologram for the first time, thanks to the invention of laser lighting. Until now, multiple research centers and companies have developed the technology to apply it widely, but it has been the digital transformation and the increase in data traffic that has allowed holograms to become a real-time image projection tool.

How do Holograms work? 

In order to understand holograms, you must first understand holography, which consists of two different beams of laser light interfering with each other when one reflects a specific object. This object is a photosensitive film, which means it is sensitive to light. When two beams of light interact, one of them deviates from the trajectory, generating a three-dimensional image.

Although it seems complicated, the technology is similar to any image reproduction tool. Motion picture registration can be done with a camera, the only difference is how the image is projected. This is how a live broadcast and a holographic broadcast work identically, but in the latter, the two-dimensional screen is replaced by a holographic device.

The problem with holograms until recently was that the graphics required a very powerful network connection, so data transmission suffered from constant interruptions and cuts. Fortunately, 5G will be the final push for the implementation of holograms for the technology we use every day. By sending large amounts of data at high speeds, holographic image playback can be performed virtually simultaneously, as if it were a live conversation.

Areas in which the first holograms are being developed

Advances in holographic technology, accompanied by increased data and reduced latency, have led several companies to carry out different tests on its application. Once the results are consolidated, we can expect widespread use of holograms in areas such as communication, tourism, parts manufacturing or even medicine.

The following projects offer the best prospects for holographic technology:

  • Telecommunications: Several pilot tests for holographic video calls have already taken place. Relying on augmented reality, today’s video calls could be replaced by holograms with which to interact in a similar way to a physical conversation. In fact, in 2017 the Korean company KT Telecom already made a holographic video call between Seoul and New Jersey.
  • Culture: One of the few practical applications that we have seen already is the use of holograms at concerts. Holography has already been used to generate realistic experiences with the image of celebrities such as Michael Jackson or rapper 2Pac. It can also be applied to the live broadcasting of concerts in different locations.
  • Tourism: In a similar way to concerts, holograms are already being applied in certain sectors of the tourism field. For example, Stirling Castle in Scotland welcomes visitors with a hologram of the historical hero William Wallace.
  • Industry: holographic technology will also be useful to standardize industrial processes. Through the use of holograms, relocated factories will be able to speed up the process of manufacturing and assembling metal parts.
  • Automotive: The incorporation of holograms to vehicles can bring endless new features. The Envisics Company has already installed this technology in Jaguar cars, but hopes to add functions such as the three-dimensional representation of GPS addresses or pedestrian identification.
  • Health: The application of holographic tools to the healthcare field can be a great advantage for patient safety. By projecting the patient’s organs, their condition can be studied and the different parts of their body can be manipulated through infrared, guaranteeing completely sterilized intervention.

Holograms in Spain: perspective and objectives

Spain has taken note of the development of this technology and great advances have already been made in different sectors. For example, Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona has already performed surgeries using 3D models, which allowed surgeons to observe the patient’s body in detail on a projection while operating. 

Holography has also been used in Spanish projects focused on “teleportation by hologram”. At the moment, Newtonlab Space, a Catalan company located in Galicia, is already testing 5G technology to broadcast holograms live. A similar project is being developed by Red.es for video conferences that will incorporate augmented reality and holography as well as a virtual assistant that can be seen by all participants no matter which angle they are standing on.

Of course, bringing holograms to the average user will be the main challenge of the future. There are already several start-ups focused on the application of holograms in the smartphone environment. Mobile phones are already capable of creating and transmitting holographic images, although technology has yet to advance to achieve detailed resolution.

Although holograms are still a long way from establishing themselves as one more tool, the application of holography is closer than you would think. The introduction of 5G calls in real time, as well as the implementation of intelligent connectivity, will add holograms to the arsenal of communication tools available to us.