Last month Prince Charles delivered a speech at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He didn't have any slides, and he didn't shake hands or answer questions afterwards. That's because he was present as a hologram. The speech was recorded in Gloucestershire, England last year, and was broadcast to the WFES using the technology of a British company called Musion. Part of the incentive for Charles to deliver the speech via hologram was to save the 15 tons of CO2 that would have been expended if he had made the trip in a physical jet. The speech involved praising the creation of a new carbon neutral city in Abu Dhabi called Masdar which is currently in development. The city of Masdar will rely entirely on solar energy, and the first phase of construction is estimated to be habitable by 2009.
Although Charles' speech was pre-recorded, Musion has done tests broadcasting live feeds, including one which sent a hologram signal 11,000 miles from San Jose, California, to Bangalore, India. According to the Musion website, the holographic projection technology has already been used by a few superstar performers and corporate elite, including Madonna, the hip hop/indie rock group Gorillaz, Virgin records owner Sir Richard Branson, and public speakers at various corporate conventions. Other forms of holographic technology have been used by environmentally minded speakers such as Al Gore at last year's Live Earth concerts, and soccer star David Beckham. While the possible implications of the holographic projection technology are certainly interesting, only time will tell the difference between high-tech fads, and consumer-level technological realities.
Tristan Gulliford is a writer, dreamer, and aspiring myth-keeper who makes electronic music under the name "Dreamcode". He is currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder.