Holograms and the Future of Display

The next step is visualisation

The holograms we use today are very different from the holograms of science fiction. You might find a hologram on your passport or your driving licence, but not as an ethereal, moving representation. At the moment, innovative display includes headsets, smart glasses and other wearables powered by Virtual and Augmented Reality. Without a VR or AR headset, the sci-fi concept of a hologram doesn’t exist… Yet. As advanced as they may be, these devices are just a step towards integrated displays that don’t rely on physical enablers. That’s where AR developer DAQRI comes in. The company has devised a new concept called ‘Software Defined Light’, which alters the properties of light via an algorithm. By creating the right conditions, DAQRI has slowed the speed of light to a point where it can be harnessed and manipulated. In other words, they’ve created a functioning hologram – or rather, millions of them. But what can you use them for, and how will they change the way we see the world around us?

The next step in visualisation…
Simply put, a hologram is a 3D image formed by photographic projection. DAQRI’s holograms are quite different from the stamp in your passport because they react to environments via sensors and algorithms. Their flagship product is a Sat-Nav-like display called HUD (head-up display), which does exactly what it says on the tin. The projections will eventually replace the need for navigation devices by overlaying route info onto the road. The company has stated that HUD will be available at the end of the year. Unsurprisingly, they’re one of many businesses in the market. Musion, for example, creates holographic projections for events. There’s even an International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), and it’s not hard to see why. Outside of transport and events, holograms have an exhaustive list of applications. In the home, for example, they could facilitate a whole new level of entertainment… Think surround-visual on top of surround-sound. In factories, holograms could be used to share and display relevant information. Any workplace, in fact, could benefit from the visualisation technology as a communications device between employees and employers. In short, holograms will be able to do everything that Virtual and Augmented Reality can do, and more… And you won’t need a headset. According to DAQRI, HUD will bring about ‘true AR’. If this concept becomes a reality, which industries is it set to disrupt?

How will holograms disrupt display?
Existing holograms aren’t particularly gripping, but the versatile displays currently under development are a completely different story. It looks like the multi-billion dollar games industry is about to be disrupted yet again by holographic entertainment, as film-enthusiasts and gamers lose their headsets in favour of innovative visuals that aren’t tied to hardware. A less exciting (but no less interesting) use for holographic display is in the workplace. Instead of attending physical meetings, workers could receive their brief from a holographic boss, or send holographic messages to other employees without needing to be physically present. As well as improving business efficiency, holograms could help with general workplace safety by providing instructions to employees in the event of an accident. Supposing that holographic displays precede the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles, then they could even lead to safer travel as drivers won’t have to look away from the road. On the flip-side, it could be disconcerting for drivers and passengers to adjust to a different way of seeing the road. This also applies to any other environment. For instance, workers may indeed benefit from holograms, but the initial adjustment could be unsettling. Either way, they present a real problem for headset manufacturers. Holograms don’t just challenge wearables, they make them completely unnecessary.

Perhaps the societal familiarity of the hologram is partly to blame for its seeming neglect by the technological world. However, numerous companies are working to change this by fuelling R&D and finding new uses for the well-known concept. DAQRI provides yet another example of a company willing to disrupt itself to reap the benefits of a new market. Although their initial product will disrupt transportation, holograms have potential applications in essentially all industries. It’s just a matter of time before seamless holographic display replaces headsets, dealing the VR/AR hardware market a crippling blow.

Could your business benefit from holographic displays? In which industry do holograms hold the most disruptive potential? Will the hologram kill the headset? Share your thoughts and opinions.