When I was a kid at school we did an experiment in Physics, an optical illusion in which a lit candle appeared in a glass of water.
The trick was performed by used a pane of glass set45 degrees to the viewer, which threw a reflection of the candle in the glass of water. It’s called Pepper’s Ghost, and was used in Victorian theatre to make ghostly actors appear to walk through solid objects.
Now a UK company called Musion has taken this technique and applied it to 21st century video conferencing. Last week the company did a demo transmitting a life-size hologram of its director in London to an auditorium in Berlin. Bill gates, Prince Charles, Lewis Hamilton, even the King of Saudi Arabia have been rendered as holographic images. Musion hopes to give the telepresence providers a run for their money.
The company believes its holographic projection system called Musion Eyeliner could revolutionise the entertainment industry: imagine a concert at the O2 Arena or Wembley where a virtual Bono or Madonna makes a cameo appearance.
I think Musion Eyeliner may well make traditional conferences more appealing. Fees aside, it would no longer be the case that we only get the people who are prepared to travel to the venue. The speaker can stay at home and have his or her hologram transmitted by high definition video to a conference hall somewhere else on the planet…or even a planet in a galaxy far, far away like Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Musion obviously has some clever technology – its patented screen, a high performance codec to code and decode high def video and a state-of-the-art network, which is able to run glitch-free. With this technology on hand, sci-fi really is becoming a reality.