AR Killed the Hologram

I apologize in advance.

This post is not going to focus on UC, collaboration or digital signage. I am not going to mention AVaaS. There will be no debate about 1 Gbps vs. 10 Gbps AV-over-IP.

Instead, I want to share a thought I had the other day about the future of the hologram.

Tupac Shakur "hologram" performing with Snoop Dogg.

The infamous Tupac “hologram,” really a Peppers Ghost effect. Image via AV Concepts.

Real holograms aren’t a reality today, but there are a lot of technologies that use the buzzword to describe their technology. Volumetric displays and Pepper’s Ghost effects seem to be the two most prevalent methods to create the illusion of a hologram. These have been around forever, but continue to re-emerge. Some newer technologies utilize LED-bedazzled fan blades to create images that float in the air and resemble holograms and there are light field displays and lenticular screens that leverage multiple projectors to accomplish similar effects.

True holography, where a 3D image is produced in mid-air, has made slight progress as laser technology has progressed, but these still require some kind of steam, smoke, gas, volume, etc. and they’re either very small or monochromatic. The best example of one I saw was at SIGGRAPH funnily enough, but the images were simple and tiny.

Despite all the potential opportunities new technology may have to offer, I am near certain the pursuit of holography is on life support. Why? AR.

Augmented reality (AR) as a technology offers the ability to create digital objects that seem to exist in our physical world through computer interaction and a headset display. The headset display is currently the barrier to wide adoption, but companies are working hard to replace the headset with a contact based display system.

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In looking at the landscape out there, I think that the AR contact will come to fruition faster than holography and once it does, holography itself will be irrelevant.

For those of you that say AR contacts will still be a barrier to adoption because not everyone will wear them, let me offer this. The physical smart phone is a temporary delivery method. The evolution of the smart phone is a Bluetooth earpiece paired with an AR contact-based display and a voice or eye control interface. That means that once the economics make sense, adoption will be widespread and the opportunities for AR experiences will be constant and accessible to everyone.

The future for AV content creators seems to be unlimited as every building, product, place has the potential for digital layering.

AR is about to kill your holograms… before they were ever really born.