Telstra + “hologram” = BSPosted: May 28, 2008
On the front page of my morning paper I find a big shiny article touting Telstras use of a “hologram” at a conference held here. Here is part of what the article says:
In an Australian first, Dr Bradlow’s life-sized, real-time hologram walked, talked and interacted with business executives at an Adelaide conference while he stood in front of cameras in Telstra’s Melbourne office.
This is pure bullshit. Telstra was not demonstrating a video hologram, or even a static hologram. A quick check on numerous websites or in many books explains what a hologram really is and the most obvious attribute is that it appears to be a 3D object. Not a 2D image on a screen. In their defense, Telstra and the media are only parroting what the company that supplies this technology is saying.
What Telstra demonstrated was projecting a video onto a screen. Some of my old magic books show how this is done, the concept is way over 100 years old and is explained on the companies website here. What they have made is a translucent foil which is an improvement over the old perspex and glass setup and allows for larger displays without some of the inherent hazards of large partial mirrors. However, a hologram it isn’t. In the right most section of the image above you can see the base of the foil just above the suits feet, yes he’s standing behind it and yes, those are marks on the ground showing him where to stand to give the best image to the viewers.
From the supplying companies web site we have this:
All the images used on an Eyeliner™ system appear as three-dimensional images, but are projected as two-dimensional images (2D/3D) into a 3D stage set. The mind of the audience created the 3D illusion. This means that production costs are minimal, needing only the single camera lens for filming and a single projector for the playback.
The point of this blog is that by using the word hologram, when people see this they come away with a poor impression of the beauty and true awesomeness of a real hologram. So in future when someone talks about hologram people will be thinking of this old stage trick and not the real thing. This is dumbing down science for no good reason apart from marketing hype. And with decreasing levels of basic science understanding and an increasing amount of technology this is the last thing we need.