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What is a Hologram?

26/11/2020

Studio Victoria

4 minutes

From smartphone-based augmented reality to AR headsets, and the bank card in your wallet, holograms are already in your life. In this article we are going to explain what holograms are by answering the following questions: What is a hologram? How do holographic projections work? and What can holograms be used for? Keep reading and find out more about holograms and their uses to help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!

WHAT IS A HOLOGRAM?

A hologram is a photographic technique that records the light scattered from an object, which makes the object appear three-dimensional. There are various types of holograms and below we provide a few examples of different types:

  • Transmission holograms: these enable light to shine through them and the image to be seen from the side

  • Rainbow holograms: these are the holograms you will probably be most familiar with as these are used on things such as credit cards and driver’s licenses for security purposes.

  • The “Pepper’s Ghost” effect: this is a 3D projection that is created with a hologram effect. An example of this is Tupac's Hologram Performance at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. The artist, whom is deceased, made an appearance on stage as a hologram performing alongside Snoop Dogg

  • The Holographic Smokescreen: quite similar to the “Pepper’s Ghost” effect, however this hologram works by using artificially generated smoke or a semi-transparent net as a “screen” for the hologram to be projected onto. The projection comes from behind rather than below it which creates the hologram and is most likely used when the design is to appear slightly translucent

HOW DO HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTIONS WORK?

Live Science explains that projected holograms work when a laser beam is shined onto the object or person you want to record and the recording medium. The laser beam is split into two similar beams and redirected using mirrors where one of the beams (called the illumination or object beam) is directed to the object where some of the light is reflected off the object onto the recording medium.

The second beam (reference beam) is directed to the recording medium. This creates a precise image in the hologram location. Therefore, the two beams, illumination beam and the reference beam, intersect and interfere with one another causing a pattern of a virtual image for us to see.

WHAT CAN HOLOGRAMS BE USED FOR?

Many industries have already implemented hologram technology through smartphone-based augmented reality (AR) applications and AR headsets. For instance, the Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality headset is a reference to holograms as they allow you to see a 3D virtual object that is not really there but it appears as if it is. The technology blends real world objects with digital content in real time. Below we list how holograms can be useful to various industries:

  • Advertising: holograms can transform the way advertising is done as it goes beyond traditional advertising. Realfiction is a company that has developed a AR product called DeepFrame. It is a glass window that you can look through and see the real world, 3D holograms, and AR images and text which can be projected to appear a few feet away or miles away to experience an enhanced reality
  • Healthcare: using holograms on things such as MRI and CAT scans will transform the scans results from traditional 2D visualisations, that are usually viewed on a computer screen, into a projected 3D visualisation. This can allow doctors, nurses, patients, and medical students to see 3D visualisations of internal organs and body parts helping them to gain a greater ability to identify, examine, and visualise injuries and diseases which will improve accurate diagnoses
  • Security: because holograms are complex to make they can be used to improve security and identify forgery. Banknotes, identity cards, and bank cards to name a few examples all have adopted security holograms. The advancement of holograms could also allow full-colour, three-dimensional images, customised text and serial numbers, as well as moving displays which will make it even harder for people to replicate
  • Video Gaming: playing holograms could be a thing of the future with holographic display table enabling real-time multiplayer games for instance zSpace, a company that creates holographic images that you can interact with as if they were real objects, is collaborating with the video game software development company Unity to develop holographic games. The hologram technology can also be making its way into the next generation of smartphone displays which can result in portable 3D gaming
  • Music: the music industry is no stranger to holograms; for example Hatsune Miku is a 16-year old blue-haired Japanese digital pop star who is a hologram. The pop star has a Vocaloid software as her voice developed by Crypton Future Media and has gone to sell out 3D concerts worldwide. Holograms are used within the music industry to put on live performances where musicians are not physically present and instead transmitted image appears to the audience
  • Art: artists can use three-dimensional recordings of holograms to bend and cut space; create art. Recently, artist Patrick Boyd put on a creative holographic exhibition in central London to present a series of holograms and holographic stereograms based around cinematography
  • Storage: we can have holographic memory using holograms to store digital data which could potentially allow us to store unthinkable amounts of information
  • Education: holograms can help teachers teach and students understand complex subjects better as students will be able to interact and examine the holographic images
  • Military: hologram images can be used as maps in the military to improve reconnaissance. Holograms that are used in the military can be a computerised holographic sheet which can also be used rolled up helping the ease of transporting the technology and storing it

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