This is how hologram technology stands now

Sometimes we see them: famous artists who have risen from the dead as holograms. It happened to Tupac, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and even André Hazes. However, the hologram technology is very diverse: You also have hologram stickers, which are of course a very different kind of hologram than the ones performing on stage. How far are we now with hologram technology?

science fiction

It’s impossible to talk about holograms without mentioning the most famous hologram in the world: Leia! Princess Leia Organa starts the Star Wars movies with it: or at least a hologram of the princess asking for help. Ever since that movie, we as humanity want holograms to actually work more than ever. They already do, but it’s not technology you see everywhere yet.

In fact, the hologram Whitney Houston is not actually a hologram at all. This involves an optical projection, a trick by which a reflection can occur on a glass plate via a mirror. Does that sound familiar? There can. Invented in 1862, this trick is known as Pepper’s Ghost, a trick also used in attractions such as amusement parks, although today it is often overcome with film projection. However, you cannot call it a hologram because it is the same image from all angles. The idea of ​​a hologram is that it looks like a person is standing there, so as you walk past it, the image looks slightly different every step of the way.

Don’t worry, there are real holograms too, but they usually don’t move. A true hologram is three-dimensional and assembled by a complicated combination of laser light beams. In short, it’s still a long way from Princess Leia Organa. Smart minds are still working on it: it allows the creation of extremely detailed holograms. It’s all still very small though. It is not quite there yet that it can be about bigger pictures.


There is another kind of technique that is hologram-like, namely one that does not involve light, but a small ball of white Styrofoam that moves on sound waves. Very fast, which creates an optical illusion because your eyes can’t keep up with that speed. A cool way to tackle this, especially now that an algorithm has also been added that detects if there is an obstacle nearby so that the hologram can take into account a ‘threat’ and go in a different direction so it can just work genuine. In this way, the hologram is still very close, but it still needs further development.

In any case, it is interesting that we have always thought that a hologram itself had to consist of light rays, but now it turns out that with sound waves and movement we get much further. It is even possible to color a hologram using polystyrene foam balls. This form of holography is called tensor holography and is considerably less time-consuming than what we consider traditional holography. A lot of building had to be done to make it happen. A large database of 4,000 sets of computer generated images.

Each set matched an image—including color and depth information for each pixel—with the corresponding hologram. To create the holograms in the new database, scenes with complex and variable shapes and colors were used, with the depth of pixels evenly distributed from the background to the foreground, and with a new set of physics-based calculations. With success, especially when that algorithm eventually came into play.


Then, of course, there is also the metaverse, which is being worked on a lot. Holograms can also play a role in this. For example, there is a Belgian company called Swave Photonics that has already raised 7 million euros in investment for its holography technology. The company’s holography is so realistic that you cannot visually distinguish it from the physical surroundings. It uses holographic augmented reality, which is also called HXR. This is technology where billions of tiny pixels come together to create a high resolution that perfectly matches how we as humans can see. Interesting technology for virtual and augmented reality headsets. However, it will take some time before this technology can be fully implemented: it takes about two years.

Holograms are now mainly used in art and entertainment, but many more uses are conceivable. They can be great for technical education and training, as well as for designers to create 3D visualizations of exactly what they are designing. In addition, soldiers are interested in their cartography, to be able to see battlefields in 3D. In the medical world, holograms can help create 3D models of patient images, but a hologram can also be used to put people at ease.

The entire hologram market is predicted to eventually be worth $5.5 billion, which makes it seem like a far-fetched show, but it just might become a big industry with a big impact. All that is needed is a lot of patience for that time, but that’s okay: It gives e.g. room for the metaverse.

Laura Jenny

When she’s not writing, she’s traveling the wonderful world of entertainment or some cool place in the real world. Mario is the man of her life…

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