Holographic Technology Gaining Steam: Could it Replace Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Holographic technology may overtake virtual and augmented reality in the near future. It does not require a headset nor does it come with the potential risk of irradiating your brain with electromagnetic energy.

Hong Kong and New York based corporation Looking Glass Factory have announced the worlds very first 8K holographic display.

On top of that, German circus Roncalli have completely replaced all of the living animals in their show with a giant herd of roaming holograms.

Finally, a team of researchers working out of the University of Sussex invent a hologram that you can see, hear, and feel.

Looking Glass Factory demonstrated their 8K holographic display in an impressive video released by the company two weeks ago. The best thing about it? There are no uncomfortable glasses like what you’d have to wear at the movie theater. Nor does it require a heavy headset such as in the case of augmented or virtual reality.

Instead the image is projected right out of the screen. Furthermore, if we were to go off the video alone, it appears that you will actually be able to view different sides of the hologram depending on your position in the room.

Greg Castle, Managing Partner of Anorak Ventures, who became the first seed investor for the Oculus VR, describes it as “[the] most mind-blowing thing I’ve seen since I first tried the Oculus prototype.”


The 32 inch wide screen includes 33.2 million pixels as well as a billion count color depth that makes it the largest, highest fidelity in the world. Their display also includes a touch and gesture based command system for more intuitive control over the user interface.

According to the company their technology works by replicating the color and directionality of light rays that ordinary matter would reflect or scatter.

Roncalli Circus from Germany has set an example for the world by removing live animals from their show. Instead making the transition toward a cruelty free alternative that employs holographic imagery. According to the company an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the public demonstrates that they are ready for change. After making the announcement Roncalli claims that they had received 20,000 emails and letters from around the globe, 95% of which were positive.

The set up for the show includes a collection of eleven ZU850 laser projectors that are angled in a way that enables the emission of 3D holograms throughout the entire circus area measuring 32 meters (105 feet) wide and 5 meters (16 feet) deep. Allowing the audience a more realistic vantage point from whatever side they are on.


Researchers from the University of Sussex have created a small inexpensive hologram that you can see here and feel.



The actual technique they employ to produce the hologram is quite intriguing. It involves manipulating an ultrasound wave to float a 2 mm wide polystyrene bead in mid air. Then, while illuminating the small bead with a red green and yellow light they adjust the ultrasound wave so as to push the bead along a perimeter in order to trace out the desired object. It is apparently the speed at which the bead moves that creates the illusion of solidity, not unlike the blades of a fan or how a single light travels along your screen to create a two dimensional image on your phone and computer.

Because sound is a mechanical wave it can produce audio including sensation from touch. However as of right now the latter mentioned effect is subtle and the hologram cannot prevent you from pushing your hand right through it. It is far from a star trek holodeck yet nonetheless a notable step in the right direction.



Furthermore because the hologram machine is built with comparatively inexpensive material the time that it takes to move from the research lab to industrial scale application may remain relatively short as long as a large corporation or government does not buy out the patent and prevent it from being manufactured.

3D holographic technology may overtake virtual and augmented reality within the near future as a viable alternative to adorning the uncomfortable, alienating headgear that currently needs to be worn for the experience. However, we need to take into consideration that like all other forms of technology the hardware utilized in mixed reality (AR/VR) will likely improve each year. Following the trend of miniaturization the headgear will only get smaller and smaller with each passing generation until it is adorned with in the eye as some kind of digitized contact lens.

At that point, it’s counterpart in the realm of externalized holographic technology may have made it to stage of commercial scale adoption. That is- you may be able to actually purchase a holographic projector for your living room or garage around the same time the augmented and virtual reality contact lens is functionally available to the public.

With that being said what is probably more likely to occur is that holographic technology will remain a matter of preference and context. For example there may be certain people who are uncomfortable with having any kind of cybernetic implant or robotic mechanism installed within their body. For those people holographic projection may be a more suitable option that would still allow them to remain relevant enough in the modern world.

As a matter of context you will likely have people who prefer to use VR/AR for  private and personal content that is meant more for exchange among a few individuals or within their own social network. That would be similar to an operating system like Microsoft Windows. Imagine for example, being able to snap a photo or record a video with a certain movement of your eye and then immediately posting it to Facebook or Instagram.

Following that line of reasoning 3D holographic projection on the other hand will likely be employed by the entertainment and commercial industry. The idea being that they would project a hologram over whatever open space is available for a more socialized spontaneous experience such as with the previously mentioned Roncalli Circus or a concert that is already generating holograms of a long dead musical artist.  When it comes to the advertisement industry however, there are no lack of examples in science fiction of commercialized Holograms parading throughout the street of an urban metropolis. Altered Carbon, Minority Report and Bladerunner are good examples that come to mind.



You could easily imagine how privacy will be an issue if they are able to simply tap into your contact lens or cybernetic implant. Luckily the whole game of cat and mouse between big brother and political independents allow for an identical likelihood of evading this in the future. For example you could potentially install an ad blocker that would allow you to screen out projected holographic images much in the same way as we do with online ads right now.

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