How Does Hologram Technology Work and What Are Its Uses?

Technology Work

From facilitating the functioning of bank cards to creating replicas of people, there is a lot to explore in the realm of holographic technology.

If you have watched a lot of sci-fi content, a hologram wouldn’t be an alien concept to you. Hologram technology refers to a three-dimensional (3D) projection that can be viewed without any particular equipment, like glasses or cameras.

Be it Facebook’s metaverse or Accenture’s virtual office, all through the past year, we have been inching closer and closer to making the virtual plane of existence a replica of the real world. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there have been interesting developments in the field of holographic technology.  

While the technology might seem like a faraway dream, it is, in fact, a concept being tried out by many segments of the market today. Let’s take a look at how hologram technology works and the ways it is being used today. 

How does a hologram work?

Holography is a photographic technique that records the light scattered from objects and creates a 3D recreation of them using a laser. The laser beam separates into two parts: a reference beam and an object beam. The reference beam is directed to the recording medium, whereas the object beam is directed at and reflected off the object onto the recording medium. For a hologram to be created, these two beams need to coordinate while in motion. 

Holographic images preserve the depth and parallax, among ‌other properties, of the original object. This is effective in conveying complex technical concepts that are otherwise difficult to understand. Holograms can be both single-frame images or multiple projections in an animated sequence. 

Some of the services that use holographic technology include entertainment, healthcare and telecommunications. Let’s look at each of these one by one. 

Marketing and entertainment

Holograms are used by marketing executives to show the full features or details of a product. You can see different perspectives of the product from different viewing angles. Holograms are also used in the entertainment sector. For instance, media companies use holograms in concerts to give fans the experience of seeing their favorite artists perform posthumously. In 2014, hologram technology was used to promote Michael Jackson’s Xscape album. Another famous example of hologram use was during BTS’s performance at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA 2020) which featured the hologram of injured member Suga

Healthcare industry

Holograms can be used in healthcare to visualize patient data. Ordinarily, doctors rely on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans to generate 2D images of internal organs, with which they have to imagine how the organs would look in 3D. However, with hologram technology, doctors and medical students can look at 3D renderings of internal organs and body parts. This can help doctors diagnose a patient’s disease or condition with greater accuracy. 

One of the experiments in holographic healthcare imaging is being conducted by the U.S-based biotechnology company Openwater. The company’s computer chip directs holographic technology by pinging ultrasound rays into the body that interfere with the photons in the body. The data from this interference is collected by the chip and then re-created as an intelligible image within milliseconds. 

Telecommunications industry

The telecommunications sector has also been actively working on developing ways to make a holographic experience of video calling. In 2017, U.S.-based telecommunications company Verizon and South Korean telecom operator KT conducted the world’s first live international hologram call. This call was limited to a 3D image on a monitor, as opposed to having the virtual projection that you see in the films. 

Fast-forward to 2022: virtual projection technology has finally become a reality. U.S.-based tech company Portl is one of the front-runners trying to send you virtually to any place. The company has created eight-feet tall glass-fronted computerized booths which can be placed wherever you want the hologram to show up. The booth contains speakers, microphones and cameras. This helps the hologram see, hear and speak to ‌people. The person projecting their hologram also requires the same implements along with a plain background. 

Holographic display market technology is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27.3 percent by 2026. As we continue to see more experiments with holographic technology, it is only a matter of time before it becomes more accessible. Who knows, maybe one day soon, we would be able to use the kind of holograms we have only previously seen in fiction!

Header image courtesy of Freepik


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