Video Calls Using Star Trek Holograms Become a Reality


The Corona virus pandemic has largely stopped travel between countries in the world since March 2020. This has prompted business people to take an interest in using holograms or 3D light projections.

This technology can present a person more fully than a video call. Like in Star Trek and other sci-fi films about the future, with this technology we can be like dealing directly with the person we are contacting in the form of a hologram.

Is Portl, based in Los Angeles, United States, is one of the companies engaged in hologram technology. However, according to Portl CEO David Nussbaum, his company couldn't complete the portal quickly enough to keep up with demand.

The holographic portal used is 2.5 meters high with glass on the front and is equipped with computer cases. Inside the booth, the user's hologram will be displayed according to his form.

This device has a speaker so that the sound of the hologram can be heard. There are also a number of cameras and microphones so users of the hologram can see and hear the people in front of their projection.

The hologram users can be anywhere in the world. He just needed a camera, a plain backdrop, and a set of speakers and a microphone.

The software system that controls the Portal application then connects the user to the holographic portal via the internet. The portal can also be more than one unit, according to the wishes of the user.

"Almost no latency. And if it weren't for the glass coating on the front of the hologram, you'd think the user was actually standing there. In fact, if there was no light on the glass, you'd think the user was actually there. ," explained Nussbaum as quoted by the BBC.

The Portl system targets businesses, and is currently also used by companies such as Netflix and T-Mobile. The price of one portal unit reaches USD 60 thousand (around Rp. 860 million). Portl says the device can be rented at a much more affordable price.

"In the next few years, this will become the usual way of communicating between offices," added Nussbaum.

Video calling will be extinct?

Portl is not the only company developing hologram technology. Microsoft is also developing a similar technology through a headset device called HoloLens 2. The price per unit reaches USD 3,500 (around Rp. 50 million), much cheaper than Portl's system.

Instead of using a portal, Microsoft's 3D hologram requires two or more users to wear a headset so that their hologram is projected in front of each other. His form was like a cartoon standing in the same room.

The company that uses this hologram is Thyssenkrupp from Germany. They are one of the largest elevator manufacturers in the world, regularly sending technicians to various countries to carry out repairs. Now, using the HoloLens 2 headset, these technicians can connect with local technicians in the form of a hologram to guide repair work.

Japan Airlines also uses the headset to help train engine mechanics and flight crews. Other companies engaged in the hologram sector are more focused on the consumer market, such as Ikin from San Diego, USA.

Next year, the company will launch a device on mobile phones that will project the interlocutor in the form of a transparent 3D hologram while making a video call.

Gordon Wetzstein, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University, says holograms are a more effective way of communicating than video conferencing.

"With a hologram, you can make eye contact. You can read subtle movements when the other person is looking at who," he said.

However, he believes that there may be problems in the future if the hologram image becomes so real that it is difficult to distinguish between a hologram and a person's true form.

"If you can create a digital or synthetic experience that is closer to reality, you're more susceptible to manipulation," says Wetzstein.

Meanwhile, Nussbaum believes that hologram technology will replace video calls in five years. He also predicts the video screen will become extinct.

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