Tech Trends: Holoportation


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Ever since the invention of the internet, it’s become easier every year to stay in touch with old friends, family, and even your business contacts. But most would agree that talking to someone through text, the phone, or even a Facetime call can’t compare to being in the same room as someone. There’s something special about the intimacy of a physical space that a screen just can’t capture.

But what if it could?

Even in the early days of sci fi, we have imagined elaborate technologies that would allow us to be present in two places at once. From the simple blue-tinted holograms of “Star Wars” all the way up to the titular avatars in James Cameron’s “Avatar”, it seems science fiction has covered all manner of methods to travel across nations, and even planets, without the actual travel part.

Well, it seems we might finally be there. New 3D capture technology, combined with virtual reality headsets–which are finally becoming affordable for consumers–have opened the door for Microsoft’s Holoportation, Microsoft version of a hologram. Microsoft’s system is expensive requiring a room full of specialty cameras–but most new technology starts out that way. It isn’t hard to imagine a future where our home, office, schools, even our self driving car incorporates Holoportation technology. If you both have the cameras and headsets, you can interact with each other like you were really in the room together. Applications could range from business to international relations to personal use. Imagine world leaders being able to go to peace talks in “war zones” with no fear of danger, simply by turning on a program. Imagine enabling a Solider to see their child’s first steps, or read their kid’s a bedtime story, overseas in a warzone as if they were in the same room. The implications are far reaching, with the ability to port ourselves anywhere, even the need for conventional transportation would significantly reduce. Imagine for a moment the effects on life as we know it!

What would you do with it?

So how does it work? The program uses a series of cameras to create a 3D image of the subject, and the objects in their room. When you put on a VR headset and connect, you can experience the space as if you were there with the person. Just be careful not to sit on a holo-couch if you don’t have a real one in the same spot.

Still confused? See it in action here:


Innovation Nation: Project Ara


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Years ago, a video went viral. It proposed a radical change in the way that we view and consume electronics–a phone with exchangable parts, which would allow users to swap out components when they broke, became obsolete, or even just weren’t needed that day. It challenged us to come up with a way to create a modular smartphone that didn’t need to be ‘upgraded’ every 2 years. The plan would reduce costly electronics waste, save consumers money, and allow us all to get out of our phones exactly what we wanted.


A bigger camera? Sure, you could get a module for that. Better battery life? No problem. Just want a phone to make calls with? The fully customizable nature of the phone would allow you to choose the most cost-effective components and cut out all the bells and whistles.

The video spread like wildfire, and the idea was picked up by Google. Prototypes were made. Teams were created and shifted. Programs were written, then re-written. And then, after months and months of progress updates and tech demos, Project Ara, as it was dubbed by Google, went dark.

The challenges of designing a modular phone were certainly greater than imagined by the creator of the original Phonebloks video. But if Google couldn’t pull it off, who could? The hype died down in the following months of radio silence, and Project was all but buried and forgotten.

But, towards the end of March 2016, some observant tech bloggers noticed something–Project Ara’s site had been given a facelift. Currently, it is only one page, emblazoned with a new logo for the project. But, could they be gearing up for something big? Websites cost money, and it’s hard to see even Google bothering to update the site if they weren’t planning on going somewhere with it.

While we’re not holding our breath for the rumored 2016 launch, we may see more on Project Ara soon. The fantasy of the ‘last phone you’ll ever buy’ isn’t dead yet.

Would you buy a modular phone? What components would you want to put on yours? Let us know in the comments.