19 Feb Could holographic technology revolutionise training and development?
It has brought Elvis and Sinatra back to life, but can holographic video work for internal communications and training?
When the late rapper Tupac Shakur “performed” at last year’s Coachella music festival in the US, the audience could barely contain its disbelief.
Of course, this wasn’t really Tupac, who was killed in 1996, but a 3D hologram so lifelike that it left many of his fans in tears. The British company behind the technology, Musion, has also produced similar holographic creations – from a dancing Frank Sinatra for Simon Cowell’s birthday party to multiple versions of Mariah Carey so she could appear in several locations at once.
But Musion argues that the potential of holographic technology reaches way beyond entertainment – and that employers could use it to enhance internal communications, company meetings and learning and development (L&D).
The system works by placing thin, metallised film across the front of the stage at an angle of 45 degrees towards the audience. Recessed below the screen is a bright image supplied by an LED screen or projector; when viewed from the audience’s perspective, the reflected images appear to be onstage.
Learning consultancy Ontrack International has now partnered with Musion to offer this technology to companies looking to give greater impact to their communications or L&D. Kevin Johnson, the company’s CEO (pictured above demonstrating the technology) explains: “There’s always a barrier between getting your message across and the willingness of the people you want to learn. Even using the web or video, some of the emotion is lost. What we’re trying to do is get people to connect emotionally.”
Some of the potential applications for holographic technology for employers might include the ability to broadcast an important CEO message to offices across the world “in person”, reducing the cost of international travel by allowing executives to appear in meetings “virtually” and being able to interact with complex, 3D product models or diagrams in a way the audience can more easily understand. The brewer Diageo has already used it for corporate presentations.
But while the technology’s potential is exciting, the current cost may put many employers off. While a company would only need basic equipment such as a video camera and lighting to create the content, to invest in Musion’s special refracting screen would cost around £200,000, Johnson estimates. It can be hired per day at the moment, at a cost of £35,000.
However, Johnson counters that companies must offset this investment against the savings they’ll make on international flights and accommodation, and the increased engagement they’ll get in the messages they’re trying to convey: “Now, when you see an image or a video it has an edge, a frame, so you’re brought into their world. This brings the message or learning into your world, so you’re more connected to it.”