'Holographic videoconferencing' comes one step closer to commercial use

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London, November 27 (ANI): With a London-based company adopting a method that creates life-size hologram-like images for theatrical purposes to the needs of modern businesses, 'holographic videoconferencing' has come one step closer to commercial use.

In the 19th century, Henry Dircks, and later John Pepper, developed an optical illusion to convince audiences they were witnessing ghostly activity.

A large sheet of glass was positioned at an angle between two rooms; a target room visible to audience members and another out of their line of sight.

Shining a light on a character in the hidden room creates a reflection that seems to materialise in the target room, or on the stage, as a ghostly spectre.

In this form, "Pepper's Ghost" is still used in theme parks today.

"But incorporating huge sheets of glass into large attractions is problematic," said Ian O'Connell, director of Musion.

According to a report in New Scientist, O'Connell's company has replaced them with the transparent polyester foils used to package microwave meals.

Using a process called biaxial orientation, the polyester is stretched in both horizontal and vertical directions during manufacture to create an incredibly strong film that is just 0.1 millimetres thick.

"A large foil could be under 5000 to 7000 kilograms of tension," said O'Connell.

This is necessary to ensure that the surface is perfectly smooth and flat to reflect the image without distorting it.

The image itself comes not from hidden actors but from a digital light processing (DLP) projector tucked out of the audience's sight.

The plastic foil is hung under tension at a 45-degree angle across the front of the stage, reflecting the projector feed onto the stage to give the impression that the actors are performing on the stage.

"This isn't a hologram, it's a virtual image," said O'Connell. "But it looks enough like people's expectations of a hologram for most people to call it one," he added.

O'Connell said that the system could be used to provide more realistic videoconferencing.

Cisco Systems, strongly pursuing the videoconferencing market, recently used a live link-up between San Jose, California and Bangalore, India, to demonstrate Musion's system. (ANI)

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