“Beam me up, Scotty” is probably the most quoted phrase in science fiction television. Taken from cult TV series Star Trek, which first aired more than four decades ago, this command from Captain James Kirk to his transporter chief, Montgomery Scott, was a cue for “Scotty” to transport Captain Kirk back to the starship Enterprise.
Star Trek heroes get “beamed up”.
More than 40 years have passed and yet teleportation hasn’t become more of a reality than it was back in Season 1 of Star Trek. Teleportation involves transporting an object from one location to another. This, of course, means that vehicular travel would become a charming activity people used to get from place to place, which will dramatically help planet earth get through the global warming crisis.
Teleportation is still a fantasy, but Telepresence is a reality. Last January, during the World Future Energy Summit, Prince Charles was “beamed” – using a Cisco Telepresence system – to Abu Dhabi and delivered a speech on the urgency of fighting global warming to other world leaders, standing in the drawing room of Clarence House in London, England.
To perform the “magic”, the Prince of Whales used a pre-recorded video transferred into a 3D video. This video was projected using Musion’s Eyeliner, a polymer screen, five meters tall, illuminated by a hidden projector able to create a 3D image that looks solid and realistic. The transmission of this very-high definition projection used a secure broadband connection.
Prince Charles in Abu Dhabi. The coverage in AP.
Prince Charles, an environmental enthusiast, chose to appear via hologram in Abu Dhabi, saving an estimated twenty tons of carbon waste (generated by the travel of the Prince and his entourage). But while Prince Charles was using a system that only princes can afford (Musion’s holographic setup currently costs GBP 70K), people like Dr. Rod Davies, CEO of New Zealand-based Nextspace, are already working on making holograms practical and affordable, taking this means of communication to the next dimension.
The possibility of using 3D, realistic holograms in the conference room to replace the old fashioned 2D video conferencing we currently know is very exciting. As much as I am enthusiastic about Continuous Presence (CP), as it is the best solution for a conference experience in two dimensions, setting up a virtual room, in three dimensions, where participants will attend using holograms, just like in real life, is definitely the ultimate endeavor.
I think that the odds of seeing (and using) such a solution are very high. There is primarily a cost issue and with time high-end 3D projectors and off-line 3D renderers will become a commodity. Thereafter we will all be able to beam around, from our desk, across the globe, to wherever we desire, meeting with peers with ease, without ever leaving home.
This sounds just “royal” to me. So – Beam me on, Charlie!