Holograms Slowly Become New Workplace Tool
Google, WeWork, Microsoft Chase Holograms
Google (GOOGL), WeWork, and Microsoft (MSFT) are among the large tech companies that want to bring holograms to the workplace. Betting virtual workers are sick of Zoom (ZM) calls and would prefer a three-dimensional image of coworkers, they are stepping up their efforts.
Bringing holograms to the masses has failed to take off so far, largely because of the expense associated with the technology. Nevertheless, the companies entering the sector say holograms, and the necessary technology to support them, will soon be commonplace in conference rooms across the globe. The tech companies had been working on 3D representations of people prior to the pandemic, but the shift to remote work prompted them to accelerate development.
Holograms Coming to an Office Near You
Shared office space company WeWork recently inked a partnership with hologram tech company ARHT Media (ARHTF) to equip 100 WeWork offices with hologram technology. The results of the partnership are rolling out this month in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The goal is to have holograms in buildings in 16 locations across the globe.
Meanwhile Google announced Project Starline in May, which combines computer vision, machine learning, spatial audio, and hardware to take video conferencing to the 3D level. Project Starline is being used only in Google offices, but the internet search giant plans to begin testing it with enterprise partners later this year. Microsoft Mesh, which the software company announced in March, delivers 3D images of people and content in smart glasses and other devices.
Not for Everyone
Tech companies have high hopes for holograms, but they may not be well suited for every business interaction. At least in the early stages, the technology may work best for recorded events rather than live ones. With the latter, the complexity and logistics required could prove too much to overcome. As the cost decreases and the technology improves, that may change.
Holograms promise to improve on telephone and video conferencing, giving people the ability to read body language and catch cues that otherwise go unnoticed. Google, WeWork, and Microsoft are making big bets that remote work is here to stay and that holograms will play a role in that shift. It will be interesting to watch how the technology and the market advance.
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