Shades of Sci-Fi: Holograms May be Next Webinar Option

Several companies say meeting participants can be 3-D holograms of remote workers, a close replication of in-person meetings – but no one-on-ones by the water cooler.

NEW YORK – Holograms may be coming to a workplace near you. As Zoom fatigue sets in, remote workers may be able to “beam into” the office. Several companies say the technology could be commonplace in conference rooms worldwide.

A number of tech companies have unveiled hologram technology, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google recently unveiled Project Starline, a video chat feature that enables participants to appear three dimensional. WeWork announced a partnership with hologram technology company ARHT Media Inc. to bring holograms to 100 WeWork buildings in 16 locations globally. And Microsoft announced Microsoft Mesh, which brings 3D images to many devices.

“There’s Zoom fatigue. There’s a lot of friction to being on video all day – it is exhausting,” says Brianne Kimmel, founder and managing partner of WorkLife Ventures, which specializes in workplace technologies. Holograms will foster “a new style of communication, where you’ll have better, more frequent interactions.”

Holograms help people read body language and bring a more personal touch to remote interactions, say proponents of hologram technology. It could also keep coworkers more connected in an office with a hybrid approach to reopening.

But the costs of such technology may be a barrier to initial adoption. Some companies say holograms, at least at first, may be best used for recorded events, trainings or seminars. Live hologram meetings may be too complex and time-consuming, says Kanishka Chauhan, principal research analyst at research firm Gartner Inc.

Source: “Tech Companies Want to Make Holograms Part of Routine Office Life,” The Wall Street Journal (June 9, 2021)