In the hopes of acquiring the 2022 World Cup, Japan recently submitted a bid proposing that the country would transmit the event via holograms to stadiums throughout the world. The idea of the event being seen via holograms may tickle soccer and technology fans’ fancies, but is it feasible?
Seth Riskin, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Museum of Emerging Technologies and Holography/Spatial Initiative, believes Japan’s proposal – which was unsuccessful in acquiring the World Cup – relied on unmanageable technology.
“Holography is very much in the development stage; we are nowhere near the data development stages needed for the World Cup proposal,” Riskin said.
He explained that holography is the only method that creates 3D in the way nature does and that all other techniques are just approximations.
“[Holography] works with recording and being able to play with objects. It captures and replays interference patterns where light is used to reproduce interference from the origins,” he said.
Simply, this means that light is shined on an object creating a wavefront interference – a pattern; this interference is then recorded onto a photo-sensitive film. When light is once again shined through the film, a 3D image is created.
Riskin said that the holograms in the Japanese proposal are actually just 3D images being made to appear as holograms. He said that it is a more modern version of a theater trick, which has been used before.
He likened it to the work of companies like Musion Systems Ltd. – a British company that uses a special foil to reflect images from high definition video projectors into holographic images. Musion reports that their Eyeliner 3D Projection system “has amazed both clients and audiences” meanwhile Riskin believes that it is just the same old theater trick of displaying a 3D image and tricking the audience into believing it is a hologram.
When asked about holographic technology and when it will make it into homes, Riskin said that he does not believe it will happen within the next five years, but “maybe 10.”
“You need the right infrastructure to make good use of it; it’s all going to be intertwined,” Riskin said.
In response to whether the U.S. is lagging behind Japan and other nations in developing this technology, Riskin said that “some of the best work is still being done in the U.S.”
However, Riskin agreed that with the high amount of refresh rates that holograms demand, and the internet speed needed to send and receive information, the U.S. may have a problem. According to Communication Workers of America, as of 2009 the U.S. ranks 28th in the world in download speed, with an average speed of 5.1 megabits per second. Meanwhile, countries like South Korea and Japan lead the world with download speeds exceeding 20 megabits per second.
Nevertheless, Riskin believes that holography still has the chance to make a big impact on society. He said medical and militaristic fields can benefit greatly from the technology as it allows the military to study regions more strategically, and doctors to analyze their patients’ tests more precisely.
Although the realization for holography may still be several years away, it has not stopped people from getting excited about its possibilities.
Dwayne Shaffer, UC Davis men’s soccer head coach, feels the technology could be great for capturing the atmosphere of an event like the World Cup.
“It would be pretty wild to be able to attend one of those [holographic] matches. It would be really unique and cool for anybody to experience that,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer said he believes that millions of people would be interested in attending at least once.
“If it ever happens, I’ll be out there to check it out,” he said.
ERIC C. LIPSKY can be reached at email@example.com.