Can You Imagine A Hologram Teacher?

Nov 29, 2018 By Aaditi P, Writer Intern
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Can you imagine being taught by a teacher who appears out of thin air in front of your classroom!

For students at Imperial College in London, this may soon be a reality. The university is working with a Canadian company to pilot a new technology whereby instructors will be beamed into classrooms. 

The technology was first unveiled at a women-in-technology event where three of the participants joined remotely from New York and Los Angeles!

Did you know that the first hologram technology appeared as early as the 16th century?

The Pepper's Ghost Effect

When you take a picture with a camera, a lens captures the image in two dimensions (2D). Holograms, on the other hand, are created when the play of light on an object is captured as a whole in 3D and projected on to another screen. So, when you try to look at the hologram from different angles, you will have the same experience as seeing the object or person live!

The most common technique to create holograms is the Pepper’s Ghost effect. The principle of this illusion was actually conceived in approximately the 1500’s. It was first written about by John Baptista de Porta in his book Natural Magic in 1584. Holograms were used in theater productions in the 1800’s. To understand how the pepper ghost effect works imagine the following.

There is a piece of glass placed at an angled direction between a room that is offstage and the audience. The audience can only see the stage portion of the theater, so the figure, that would be reproduced as a hologram, is in the offstage room. When the room is unlit, nothing can be seen on stage. However, when it is lit, the figure reflects across the angled glass and a copy of the original figure can be seen by the audience!

Holograms Today

Did you know that your parents carry holograms in their wallets? Look at credit cards these days and you will see a holographic image of a flying bird or a world map!

Holograms have been used at airports to guide travelers, at concerts to project artists who are no longer with us such as Michael Jackson, and recently by politicians whose speeches can be beamed to multiple locations. Although the techniques are certainly different from the early methods, it is still built on the same foundations. 

The holograms that will soon be used to give lectures uses a roughly similar technology as the Pepper’s Ghost effect. The lecturers will use a “capture studio” that contains a black backdrop, against which they film. Lights will shine from either side of the studio, and the backdrop will give an illusion of depth so that when the hologram is projected to locations, students will see a 3D copy of the lecturer standing in front of them.

The company behind this technology claims its solution is much cheaper to implement than the Pepper Ghost effect. Furthermore, it can allow speakers from all over the world to simultaneously give presentations at numerous locations. However, there are concerns over technical issues that might disrupt the lecture and whether speakers would really stick around and answer questions from students. 

As with any new technology, it will take time for all issues to be resolved. But, the future of hologram classrooms certainly looks bright!  

Source: BBC, Explainthatstuff, Telegraph,Wikipedia