Immersive storytelling beyond the headset: Holograms Take Center Stage

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A holographic elephant appears in front of a crowd of amazed onlookers

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, storytelling has undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to the advent of holograms. This cutting-edge development has opened up new dimensions in narrative experiences, offering a level of immersion that was once reserved for science fiction. In this article, we explore the exciting use of holograms in storytelling, both through pass-through technology in virtual and mixed reality headsets and without headsets, utilizing projectors.

The Holographic Renaissance

The concept of holograms, three-dimensional images projected into space, has captivated our collective imagination for decades. While initially limited to the confines of science fiction and eye-popping visuals at concerts (the image below is taken from Gorillaz’s live performance at the MTV awards in 2010 (!), holograms have now infiltrated the realm of storytelling and are much more affordable. This transformation is primarily driven by two distinct approaches: using pass-through technology in virtual and mixed reality headsets and employing projectors to bring holographic narratives into our physical world.

Holograms in VR and MR Headsets

  1. Pass-Through Technology: Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) headsets are at the forefront of immersive storytelling. With the integration of pass-through technology, these devices enable users to interact with holographic elements within the confines of their real-world environment. The magic unfolds by merging computer-generated imagery with the physical world. Imagine standing in your living room while fantastical creatures spring to life before your eyes. Pass-through technology provides a level of immersion that has previously been unparalleled, allowing storytellers to craft truly breathtaking experiences.
  2. The Power of Interaction: One of the most compelling aspects of holograms in VR and MR headsets is the interactive potential they offer. These holographic experiences aren’t just static images; they respond to user input, making every encounter unique. Whether you’re solving puzzles, exploring a virtual museum, or delving into an epic adventure, the ability to interact with holographic elements adds a layer of engagement that conventional mediums struggle to match. Below is a video showcasing the power of immersive mixed reality gaming where you can see the occlusion of virtual objects by real-world doorways, as well as great real-time virtual physics.
  3. Limitations and Potential: Despite their enormous potential, holograms in VR and MR headsets still face some technical challenges. Limited field of view, headset weight, and the requirement of dedicated hardware are among the challenges that need to be addressed for widespread adoption. However, as technology advances, we can expect these limitations to gradually fade, unlocking even more compelling storytelling opportunities.

Projecting Holograms into the Physical World

  1. The Unleashed Holographic World: While VR and MR headsets offer astounding immersion, not everyone is ready to embrace a wholly digital reality. For those who prefer to keep one foot in the physical world, projectors have emerged as a viable alternative. This approach allows storytellers to cast holograms directly into the real environment, creating a mesmerizing blend of the digital and physical. One use includes the opening of a “Hologram Zoo” in Australia, where holographic animals are projected in front of amazed visitors. Visit the Zoo’s website here.
  2. Projecting Beyond the Screen: The utilization of projectors in storytelling is not new; however, advancements in holographic projection technology have taken it to an entirely new level. Whether it’s for live events, stage performances, or interactive museums, projectors have transcended the limitations of flat screens. Audiences can now witness characters, creatures, and objects spring to life in their own space.
  3. Real-World Integration: The projection of holograms into the physical world extends beyond mere entertainment. It has the potential to revolutionize industries such as education, design, and healthcare. Imagine students dissecting holographic frogs in biology class or architects visualizing 3D building models on-site. The applications are endless.
Image from Hologram Zoo showing one of the holographic animals in action.

Holograms in Video Calls

Let’s also not forget the power of holograms during video calls, something that we at Empathetic Media Health developed using our own proprietary HoloShare technology. We wanted to harness this wow effect to take video calls to the next level, allowing our users the ability to instantiate 3D virtual objects directly inside their video calls (using Zoom, Teams, Skype or any other VoIP software). Primarily designed with the lockdown in mind, the goal was to allow users to refer to complex animated visuals (see below for a screenshot) while maintaining eye contact with their audience. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in the use of HoloShare for your remote presentations, or read more about it here.

The Future of Holographic Storytelling

Holograms in storytelling, whether through VR/MR headsets or projectors, represent a seismic shift in the way we consume narratives. The fusion of the virtual and real world, along with the potential for interactive engagement, has paved the way for a future where storytelling is no longer confined to two dimensions.

As technology continues to evolve, we can anticipate even more breathtaking holographic experiences that will blur the lines between fiction and reality. Furthermore, the democratization of these technologies, making them more accessible and user-friendly, will be crucial in ensuring that holographic storytelling becomes a medium available to all.

In conclusion, the era of holographic storytelling has arrived, and it is transforming how we engage with narratives. Whether it’s through the lens of a VR headset or projected into our physical surroundings, holograms have unlocked a new realm of immersive experiences. The possibilities are limitless, and as technology progresses, we are poised to witness an exciting evolution in the art of storytelling. The future of storytelling is holographic, and it is indeed a thrilling time to be a part of this revolution.

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