BONUS CONTENT :
Afterword by Robert Scoble
As I think back on the holograms I have experienced in my life, whether the 18-wheel truck that was in my office for a while, or Buzz Aldrin showing me around Mars, I realized a new way of experiencing humanity is finally here. We can now build and experience incredible things, even meet new people, by simply using augmented and mixed reality devices.
Throughout this book Envisioning Holograms, Mike Pell does a great job of showing you the how and what of designing holographic experiences. But it got me thinking, who really knows the why? I think the “why” is this – with spatial computing and holograms we’re adding meaning to the real world.
Recently, I took my son across the country. Just looking around, I saw so much meaning everywhere we visited. For example, while at the Donner Pass, we learned about how the transcontinental railroad (which really gave Silicon Valley its start by providing Leland Stanford the personal wealth to found Stanford University), sliced through the pass only thanks to tens of thousands of Chinese workers who risked their lives to blow tunnels in the granite. That place certainly holds a special meaning for their families, decedents, and the ill-fated Donner Party, as you learn by visiting the museum at the site.
Those are some public meanings, but what of the thousands of personal meanings? What are those for people who have visited the spot to shoot a photo or selfie, like I did on our honeymoon 15 years ago, or again recently, with my son.
To consider those deeper personal meanings, I imagined a future of holograms. Some that showed the struggles of the Donner Party. Some that showed the Chinese workers building the railroad. Others showed the railroad actually working again, explaining to future generations why that railroad was responsible for the building of Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Why stop there? Every surface offers opportunities for developers to add meaning through holograms. Some by adding art. Some by adding games. Some by adding human or robotic assistants taking you through museums, shopping malls, sporting arenas, and more. Why? Because humans love to leave evidence of themselves for future generations. We’ve been doing that since carving our names in cave walls, or pictograms of loved ones. We will build holograms to entertain. Inform. Educate. Memorialize.
One of the key experiences for me a few years back was experiencing myself as different animals in Chris Milk’s “Life of Us” at the Sundance Film Festival. He took us on a journey from being born as a tadpole to experiencing the world as a bird, a gorilla, and other characters. We are the hologram in Life of Us. And it is beautiful. I watched dozens of people experience it and it took fractions of a second for each to understand their new role in the world.
Holograms let us experience life in a new way.
Keep in mind that was back in 2017, so drawing the holograms had to be done with a low polygon budget because our GPUs weren’t fast enough to keep up with photorealistic scenes, and sometimes resulted in the uncanny valley (the gulf between something that looks human but has computational flaws that keeps them from fooling our minds into thinking they actually are).
We now know how to design and build realistic holograms that won’t melt down the underpowered chips that draw these on headsets and glasses, or the humans that view them. Envisioning Holograms properly digs into how we can get started with all that.
As we head into a world that lets us augment literally every face, object, and surface, Mike Pell has done a great job of helping the early settlers figure out how to envision what this new world could be, and for that I say kudos and bring it on!
Half Moon Bay, California
Learn more about the author M. Pell at Futuristic.com