Public Media Arts Hub

How holograms are adding a new dimension to our online world


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Hari Sreenivasan: Remember Star Wars where there was a little Princess Leia hologram or the holodeck in Star Trek, that hologram technology is kind of here now. I'm in one. I went and talked to the CEO of a company that has hologram studios that are setting up around the world.

In midtown Manhattan, I recently visited this coworking space run by WeWork, which has partnered with hologram company ARHT media to bring lifelike holograms to as many as 100 WeWork locations worldwide.

To find out more, I spoke with ARHT''s CEO Larry o'Reilly. He joined me from Toronto.

Larry O'Reilly: Greetings from Toronto.

Hari Sreenivasan: Hi Larry! How are you?

Larry O'Reilly: I'm great. How are you today?

Hari Sreenivasan: Thanks for uh, virtually joining us.

Larry O'Reilly: Absolutely. I'm there.

Hari Sreenivasan: So what are we doing here?

Larry O'Reilly: What's happening is I'm being captured on a 4K camera. My video, image and audio are being compressed and encrypted and sent to New York, where I'm being presented to you in 0.3 seconds or less. And I should be appearing life-sized and lifelike looking 3-D. And that's what we call "creating presence".

Hari Sreenivasan: What does this do that I don't get from a Facetime or a Zoom?

Larry O'Reilly; Well, what you don't get obviously is the body language right? All the cues that are nonverbal, of which more than 50 percent of communication is nonverbal. And really where you notice a huge difference is we can take people from different parts of the world and bring them on stage together where they can communicate with one another as if they're in the same place and then that can be streamed anywhere in the world.

Hari Sreenivasan: So who's going to use this? I mean, I'm at a WeWork space in New York and you're sitting at your headquarters, but who do you see and how do you see them using it?

Larry O'Reilly: Training is a big thing. Education is a big thing. We have a college that's in the South Pacific and their courses are taught from the University of Hawaii using our hologram technology.

And our primary client base would be professional service organizations. If you're in New York and you need a portfolio manager from an investment bank in Hong Kong, well, you'd be moving from Hong Kong. It saves three days of travel. No carbon footprint, you know, and you might get access to somebody who you wouldn't get otherwise.

Hari Sreenivasan: Is this augmented reality likely to trickle down into people's homes or people's community centers?

Larry O'Reilly: Like all technology, as it evolves, the cost of delivery comes down and then it gets adopted by a much broader base of people. When I joined this company three and a half years ago, our starting price to deliver an event was about $90,000, and we'd send a team of people. Now we can do activations for $15 and 20,000 dollars and still be profitable.

Hari Sreenivasan: What other ways can we create that human connection between people across distances?

Larry O'Reilly: There's been major leapfrogs in technology on the camera side. And right now in order for us to get the proportions right, ideally, we need a distance of about 15 to 20 feet between the camera and the subject. And that will change. You know, I'm being captured on a green screen and there's technologies that are out there today where I can be captured outdoors and the background would be removed. There's latency involved with all of that, but like with all technologies that will evolve.

Hari Sreenivasan: Thank you, Larry, for stopping by, I guess.

Larry O'Reilly: It is a pleasure to meet you, and thanks for coming to WeWork in New York.

Support Canvas

Sustain our coverage of culture, arts and literature.

Send Us Your Ideas
Let us know what you'd like to see on ArtsCanvas. Your thoughts and opinions matter.