The technology is flashy, but it’s unclear if it will affect the future of videoconferencing.
The ARHT Media studio in the downtown Boston WeWork building is configured for videoconferencing. There are comfy chairs, monitors aplenty, and even a technician, Billy Smith, to make sure everything goes smoothly.
“If you’re all ready, I’m going to beam Larry in now,” said Smith.
Suddenly, after a flourish of pixels on a black mesh screen and a whooshing sound effect, there was Larry O’Reilly — or, at least, a lifelike rendering of him, floating in midair. This was no Zoom call; the CEO of ARHT was “beaming in” to Boston from Toronto for an interview with the Globe using the hologram-like technology that his company developed.
“This is a rather efficient way to travel,” said O’Reilly. But is it the future of videoconferencing?
To be sure, his likeness was not completely realistic. He appeared overly radiant and a bit too tall. (The display, he explained, is typically used for larger stages, when the audience is seated further back.) He was not even technically a hologram, which would be completely 3D, but rather a life-size, two-dimensional projection that ARHT has dubbed “holographic telepresence.”