Projected success for holographic telepresence

Paul Raven @ 08-11-2010

The Guardian strikes back with a another sci-fi pop-culture reference in a new-tech article; this time the holographic projections from Star Wars: A New Hope get the nod as the “just like that” examplar of new research from the University of Arizona:

Until now, scientists have been able to create holograms that display static 3D images, but creating video has not been easy. Two years ago, Peyghambarian’s team demonstrated a device that was able to refresh a holographic image once every few minutes – it took around three minutes to produce a single-colour image, followed by a minute to erase that image before a new one could be written into its place.

In his latest project, Peyghambarian’s team reduced that image refresh time to two seconds. They also showed it was possible to use full colour and demonstrated parallax, whereby people looking at the image from different angles will see different views of the image, just as if they were looking at the original object.

Note, however, this is not a true 3D hologram:

Whereas the image of Princess Leia in Star Wars is projected in three-dimensional space, the new technology uses a 2D screen to create the illusion of 3D. At the heart of Peyghambarian’s system is his team’s invention of a new type of plastic known as a photorefractive polymer. The material, which is used to make the screen, allows the researchers to record and erase images quickly.

Naturally enough, the predicted market for this technology is telepresence for business meetings… which is the very same market that was meant to have made videophones ubiquitous by now. Given the amount of hardware and expense involved in this holographic telepresence set-up, I figure videotelephonics and/or metaverse meetings will get taken up much more quickly, if at all.

Still kinda cool, though.


Idoru: manufactured pop music approaches apogee

Paul Raven @ 25-10-2010

The more Bill Gibson claims modestly not to be a prophet, the more the world comes to resemble the ones in which his novels are set. Completely synthesized 3D holographic pop singer, anyone? [via MonkeyFilter]

Her hair is blue, she dresses like Sailor Moon, and she’ll only appear in concerts via a 3D ‘hologram’. Oh, and did I forget to mention that she’s completely fictional? Created by Crypton Future Media, Hatsune Miku is a virtual singing avatar that you can purchase for your PC and program to play any song you create.

[…]

Watching Miku sing live is pretty amazing. The 3D ‘hologram’ isn’t that impressive, it looks to be a modern version of the pepper’s ghost illusion we’ve seen before, but the crowd reaction is intense. I’ve been to concerts where the band’s fan base was considerably less enthusiastic. How must it feel to be a musician and see this virtual character getting way more love than you? Hatsune Miku and her ‘friends’ may only have played a few tours, but there’s little doubt that these guys are rock stars:

Well, you can colour me cynical, but given the levels of utterly obvious artifice on display in most of the popular meatpuppet pop acts, I’m not really surprised that the crowds go wild for idorus; there’s a strong element of suspension of disbelief involved with music fandom (one which extends just as deeply into forms and genres that are considered by their fans to be the polar opposite of pop), and unabashed artificiality is just another fact of modern life, especially to younger audiences.

Guardians of hollow notions of artistic authenticity (and curmudgeonly critics like myself) can at least take heart from the fact that idorus will face many of the same piracy problems and business model issues as flesh-and-blood acts, at least once the novelty quotient expires… though they’re probably less likely to get tired and jaded about their careers, to discover free jazz or to overdose on prescription painkillers.

That said, given how much of our engagement with musicians (and other artists) is connected to the narrative mythology that surrounds them – in many cases more than with their actual music, or so I’d argue – the arrival of the first by-design tortured/iconoclastic/bi-polar/just-plain-f*cked-up idoru can’t be too far away.