Holograms have not only been a dream of mankind since the early “Star Wars” films. The possibility of realistically sending other people or objects to other three-dimensional places is fascinating. An American start-up in Los Angeles, PORTL, has now developed a device over two meters high and two feet deep that purports to make this possible: a holographic box for entertainment applications, museums, advertising and a day maybe also the apartments, when you can get the 180 kilograms through the door.
However, the hardware is still a bit expensive – the price should start around 50,000 euros. Due to the size of the system, which has 4K resolution, it should look particularly realistic. Behind the start-up is the boss and founder David Nussbaum, himself from the entertainment industry. The telepresence system is designed for live use. With two built-in cameras and stereo speakers, direct interaction with the audience is possible as long as the internet connection is fast enough. Content is delivered through Amazon’s AWS platform.
A small studio is needed on the side of the presenter. It is offered by PORTL as a complete set and consists of a stage with a white background including floor markings, lighting, microphone and 4K camera on a stand. You can access the internet through WLAN, network cable, or 5G connection. The presenter sees on a monitor what is happening in front of and near the hologram box.
PORTL does not reveal exactly how the screen technology that represents the hologram works. According to a report from the trade magazine “IEEE Spectrum” it is a volumetric displaywhich uses a window effect in which the panel sits approximately 12 centimeters in front of the bezel. The cabinet is illuminated from all sides by integrated LEDs and specializes in displaying shadow effects. The interior is 43 centimeters deep. A combination of shadows, highlights and the precisely placed panel is responsible for the effect, it is said.
Ultimately, the hologram is then put together in the brain. It transforms a 2D image into a three-dimensional image. According to Nussbaum, PORTL technology should be relatively simple, which could allow for miniaturization. A “mini version” for businesses is due to appear by the first quarter of 2021, and later for end customers that fits on a table. So we would all really have Princess Leia at home.
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