Memories are an inevitable aspect of life. We have the ability to not only do and see incredible once-in-a-lifetime snapshots of the world but to also make these moments everlasting.
A quick scan of Instagram and Facebook reveals highlights of our friends’ and family members’ lives. Today, uploading pictures on social media platforms has become a contemporary way to create memories.
However, photos and film footage captured on these platforms are reliant on the host platform’s success, or failure. This outcome is heavily based on today’s influential platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube standing the test of time and being here in 50 years.
Technology to remember
As our own internal memory software begins to fade, wouldn’t it be life changing if there was a way to ensure we could actually live our memories again, albeit virtually?
And even more beneficial, that the memories we are reliving, sharing and leaving behind for our loved ones, and future generations, are accurate?
While some believe that memory works like video to create a reliable representation, in reality, research shows us that our ‘human’ memory constantly adapts and moulds itself to fit the world.
We all generate false memories; ranging from the notion that we have eaten a live mouse to being able to fly as a child. Yes, true stories! But although it’s deemed that false memories are the sign of a healthy brain, surely it’s better to leave behind a true representation of our lives.
The birth of the Hologram
In 1947, Dennis Gabor developed the theory of holography and it has been made possible via the development of laser technology. According to techtarget.com, a hologram is a three-dimensional image, created with photographic projection.
Unlike 3D or virtual reality on a two-dimensional computer display, a hologram is a truly three-dimensional and free-standing image that does not simulate spatial depth or require a special viewing device.
With each decade that has passed since the hologram theory first entered the realm of possibility, the technology behind holographic evolution presents us with so many ‘end-use’ opportunities.
Developers are now taking Augmented Reality (AR) from an inward, individual experience to an immersive, all-encompassing one that creates long-lasting memories.
We take a look at some of the key ways this is taking shape…
- Changing the face of our classrooms
Remember how you learnt about the human body, or the Solar system, or the Earth’s core at school? Chances are it would have been from a textbook. And for visual and kinaesthetic learners, getting to grips with this subject matter remained firmly on the pages, and often uninspiring, static and hard to imagine.
Now, however, it’s looking likely that our children will benefit from a totally different experience — one they can get immersed in and inspired by. This is led by the advancements in holography and learning from 3D images that may soon be beamed into the centre of classrooms and change how we learn.
It’s possible that holographic telepresence will allow ‘guest speakers’ from around the globe to be ‘enter’ classrooms, making for a very different and exciting educational experience. Imagine your child being able to learn alongside ‘virtual’ pupils from all over the world. Or NASA astronauts and famous historical figures from the past kept alive in holographic form for the benefit of future generations.
The benefits of using holograms to record memories of the living, and to then be passed on, is impacting greatly on our classroom learning and historical referencing.
- Remembering history
Talking about history, the USC’s Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles was established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg and has been recording the life stories of genocide survivors. A project known as New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) has been experimenting with AR and virtual reality (VR) to capture these testimonies.
“So far, virtual reality has been very much about gaming, or has been about creating environments that you can navigate and explore and so forth,” said Steven Smith, the executive director of the Shoah Foundation. “But actually there’s nothing more intimate than speaking to another human being, face to face. So we’ve seen multiple ways in which VR can be used for testimony.”
One such example is the opportunity to converse with a Holocaust survivor named Pinchas Gutter. Pinchas is not actually in the room, in fact nowhere near. This communication happens through interacting with a hologram, which appears on a flat, 2D display.
Authenticity and instantaneous interaction
The foundation also uses its own natural language processing system making the conversation, well, unnaturally natural!
Smith said of the Pinchas video, “I think the immediacy of this format brings you really close to the subject, and I think it’s going to become the standard way in which we document our history.”
Californian company 8i were early pioneers of researching ways to test emotional connectivity through the use of holograms. Its Chief Executive Steve Raymond said in an interview with The Verge. “we were looking for ways to test the emotional connectivity that could happen between a real person and a digital person”.
What has evolved, years later, is the very real possibility of creating hyper-realistic time capsules of the people closest to us. Or, the people we wish were still close to us.
The emotional connection is in part due to the realness of the holograms. You can walk around them, get close to them, and to some extent, interact with them. If you imagine how it could feel to look down on a hologram of your newborn, long after the baby has grown, and relive some of the precious moments that fly by all too quickly — that’s pretty powerful stuff.
Since 8i first started making holograms and the Shoah Foundation began the NDT project, much has changed in the broader market for AR and VR video. Research firm International Data Corporation (IDA) has predicted that dedicated VR and AR headsets could collectively rise to sales of 100 million units by 2021. That’s compared to just 10 million units in 2016.
IDA believes that the opportunity for AR exists largely in the commercial sector. Interest and investment are gathering pace around the FMCG, manufacturing and design sectors to name a few.
Where can this technology go?
The market for AR content hit a huge turning point last year when both Apple and Google unveiled new smartphone platforms for AR, while Microsoft also announced it was opening up holographic video studios in San Francisco and London.
Now, developers, producers, and marketers can explore the idea of producing holographic videos.
Just how far away are we from buying ‘capture studios’ from Amazon and making our own holographic memories at home as well as at school? Possibly not that far.