How hologram is improving online learning, meetings

The arrival of holograms offers a complete shift from traditionally-known forms of immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality by simply represent digital 3D assets using light. ILLUSTRATION | SHUTTERSTOCK

In today’s world, it is a cliché to say that technology is changing faster than ever. The version of the statement has since changed to ‘the pace of change is breathtaking’. This is much more so in the world of virtual interaction inventions that first became widely embraced during the Covid-19 scourge.

The newest baby on the block to take the industry by storm is an innovation dubbed hologram. A strange sound to hit your ears, right? So, what exactly does this big word refer to?

Walid Kilonzi, an Extended Reality Producer at creative studio Fallohide explains that a hologram is simply a three-dimensional image created by a laser or other coherent light source, with the beams interfering with one another.

“In order to create a hologram, four essential elements are required: the recorded object, a laser beam or other light source, a recording medium that makes the image clear and a space where the light rays will collide,” explains Kilonzi.

All-immersive experience

The arrival of holograms offers a complete shift from traditionally-known forms of immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality in the sense that the existing models fuse the virtual and the ‘real’ worlds together by generating an all-immersive experience while holograms simply represent digital 3D assets using light.

In the online learning sphere, where they are most rampantly applied, holograms work by projecting the live image of the tutor onto a screen in front of the class. Business schools world over are increasingly rolling out trials of the technology in an effort aimed at improving the experience of students who study online.

“The lecturer, who must be presenting from one of the university’s several studios located across the world, has a live audio feed and a screen that shows their class. This allows them to watch and listen to students, and interact with them,” reads a news report published by the Financial Times (FT).

Students in the US are reported to have rated the holographic instructor experience as 70 percent good as having a physical lecturer. In their submission, FT reports, the students express satisfaction in the fact that the remote control robotics allow them access to a respected specialist who might be unavailable in person, and who would otherwise have been replaced with a local substitute.

Though relatively pricey, experts see the innovation as an intriguing method of presenting educational information remotely and as an ideal approach for students to share costs in the classroom learning context.

“It's unquestionably a memorable method to interact with unique classroom learning content, expensive or difficult-to-access artefacts, or infrastructure. That kind of image may stay with you forever. You might recall viewing a hologram of the human heart in 3D,” says Kilonzi.

In Kenya, the technology is not all-alien as holographic fans are already being used in leading shopping malls and especially by tech stores in efforts to draw customers. Rollout in supermarkets and even at entertainment joints is viewed as inevitable as the technology becomes more widely available.

Uptake impediment

The biggest uptake impediment, however, is in the cost implication of adopting holograms for use.

“A nice 17.7-inch Holographic fan costs around $200 (Sh20,000) as a starting point. You should spend around the same amount of money clearing customs at the airport. A beginning designer who will provide the 3D elements should charge at least an additional $200,” notes Kilonzi.

Although mounting the fan is simple as all you need is a reliable power source, the constraint comes from the fact that the technology can only be utilised indoors.

Tech specialists argue that since the hologram concept uses light, the next step for innovators will be to figure out ways of making it stronger so that it can be used outside without consuming too much energy. This way, they assert, the world will enter a new era of communication where industry leaders can decipher live holograms.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.