A holographic telepresence is a three dimensional moving image created through the use of holographic technology. These images appear to jump off the screen because they refract light just as a real three dimensional object would. Though holograms have been around for decades, the ability to refresh a holographic image at a rate approaching the normal motion capture rate is new. The technology used to create a holographic telepresence is in its infancy in 2011 and can currently only refresh at a rate of every 2 seconds, rather than the minimum of 30 times per second needed to display fluid motion.
Holography is one of a number of ways to create three dimensional images. Though similar in appearance to three dimensional movies, the technology used to create a holographic image is completely different. A hologram is created by positioning a number of cameras around an object and then recording the image as a series of three dimensional pixels. The information can then be displayed in such a way that an observer can move all the way around it and see it as if it were actually there. The holographic presence may appear to be a real object, but it cannot be touched because it is made of light.
The technology to create holograms has been available since the 1960s. The first imagining of a holographic telepresence was in the film Star Wars, though it wasn't until the 2000s when the technology to create such an image was invented. The holographic telepresence is still in its infancy, but developers believe that teleconferencing using holography will be readily available within the 2010s.
There are a number of ways that a holographic telepresence can be created. The image first needs to be captured by a system of cameras and then translated into a data stream. On the other end, the image can be reconstructed using computer technology and a screen made of a photo refractive material. This material allows the image to refract light in the same manner as the source of the image, giving it a three-dimensional quality. Alternatively, three dimensional holo-images may be displayed through the use of a quickly rotating mirror.
A number of different industries could make use of holographic telepresence technology as it becomes more sophisticated. Teleconferencing could be done in three dimensions, and holographic images could be sent around the world, making it possible for an absent person to appear in three dimensions. It also has applications in the medical industry, where surgeons may be able to participate in an operation from across the globe using holographic representations of a patient.