Communication has always been an integral part of human connection. This ability essentially speaks to our nature as a social species. We spend on average at least 12 to 15 hours on communication on a daily basis. Communication is basically a two-way process where traditionally, one person is the sender and they transmit a message to another person – the receiver, who sends a response to acknowledge receipt of the message. Success in and of any field has effective communication as a critical component.
Telecommunications has made it easy for people around the world to communicate with relative ease, but the current channels also have some disadvantages. For example, with text messaging or email you cannot recognize the emotion behind the words, whilst voice calling does not allow you to see a person’s facial expression. This presents a challenge as a considerable proportion of human communication (about 93 percent where body language accounts for 55 percent and tone of voice for 38 percent) is non-verbal.
Although technologies such as video calling (Skype, FaceTime, etc) have made it possible for people to communicate much like they would face to face from anywhere around the world, these technologies themselves have some flaws. Have you ever been on a video call and the connection just cuts out? The person on the other end was pixelated, or you could not hear what they were saying? These are some of the setbacks of the current technology available in the present-day market.
As humans innovate and technology evolves, we will find even more ways to communicate that suits our needs. One of the technologies that are currently being experimented with is Holography. This technology is defined as a photographic technique that records the light scattered from an object, and then presents it in a way that appears three-dimensional. Numerous variations of holograms have been created over the years. These include transmission holograms, which allow light to be shined through them and the image to be viewed from the side. In addition, there are also rainbow holograms which are used for security purposes – on credit cards and driver’s licenses.
The technology is still in its early stages, but Microsoft has already created a ’Star Wars’ style holographic communication solution. The term that is used is HoloPortation. The advantages of HoloPortation is putting the person in the room with you in 3D, you can see the persons facial expression and body language, which would push long distance communication over the top. If you have a call with someone they will be in front of you rather than appearing on a flat laptop/TV screen.
If you are having a meeting, for example, remote members could appear in the same room while being in different parts of the world. A riveting example of this is shown in Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ and ‘Iron Man’ movies where the latter’s lab sequences with the main protagonist industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark makes use of futuristic seamless, responsive interfaces that are gestural, holographic and tangible.
When the possibilities are imagined, it stands to reason that this kind of technology could impact the entire world in a myriad of meaningful ways. For instance, the world’s best doctors could appear in a surgery room with a less experienced surgeon and talk him through a surgery in real life. Great teachers from around the world could educate less fortunate schools by being there in real life, without physically being there.
Although this is already happening, it is in the early stages. The tech currently in test-phase use is clunky (requiring a ton of hardware and by extension – a ton of computing power) and expensive as it still has a long way to go before it can be released in a consumer-friendly version. But, the continual development of this technology will be an interesting journey and the eventual outcome should be very impressive. Moreover, the technology itself is not too far off in the in its development that it will take a lengthy period of time in order for it to become a reality. As of the beginning of 2016, the developer edition of HoloLens (a self-contained, holographic computer that enables the user to engage with digital content and interact with holograms) was already set for shipping and to be made available for public consumption.
As this technology evolves and becomes more refined, HoloPortation could lend its capabilities to a host of numerous business and mainstream societal life applications as the next step in an interactive, real-time, full experience communication tool and fundamentally change the future of communication.