What is holoportation?

If there is a television series that, for decades, has made multiple generations dream of the future, there is little discussion about which title deserves the gold medal in that regard: Star Trek. Devised by the brilliant and somewhat eccentric Eugene ‘Gene’ Roddenberry, he debuted with the classic series (the only one at the time, of course) in 1966, that is, at a time when the space race was experiencing its best times, simultaneously with not a few advances in relation to computers and many other technologies.

Some of the futuristic technologies shown by the series in the 1960s are, today, part of our daily lives, but others, more than half a century later, are still far from our reach. The main one, without a doubt, is the curvature engine, a key element for space exploration as proposed by the series, but probably the most desired by many is not that. The most “remembered” phrase of the series (and I put in quotes the remembered because, curiously, it was never pronounced) is Beam me up, Scotty, with which the members of an expedition asked the chief engineer of the Enterprise to teleport them from Back to NCC-1701. So, yes, we talk about teleportation.

The teleportation or, to be more exact, the teleportation of atoms, and even more, of structures composed of them, It is not yet in sight in the short or medium term, and there are quite a few qualified voices who state that it will never be possible. Personally, I think that these last ones are some spoilers, but on the other hand I am quite clear that it is something that, if achieved, will be so long term that I will not see it, and I bet that you will not either (wow, now I am the spoiler). me).

So, to high teleport, what we can trust is holoportation. Not the same, I know, but not being able to eat a good Kobe beef tenderloin (no longer wagyu, I’m talking about having its certificate of origin from Kobe) doesn’t make me less enjoy a good cut of Galician beef, from the Sierra del Guadarrana or some succulent Argentine specialty. If my atoms can’t be teleported, at least my presence can be holoported.

What is holoportation?

It is likely that, just with its name, or in any case with its name and the previous paragraphs, you have already got an idea, even more so considering that it is not an excessively new technology. We already told you about it in 2016 and, given its potential, the investigations into it have not stopped since then. Y 2022 is turning out to be a particularly important year in this regardwith successful trials extending its reach.

In a summarized way, holoportation proposes holographic reproduction in real time and remotely of a signal captured with a camera specially designed for this purpose at one end, and an optical system capable of holographically reconstructing the image captured by the camera. If the two (or more) interlocutors have both elements, they will be able to interact with each other as if they were both in the same place. And yes, said like that, it may sound like something simple, but in reality we are talking about a particularly complex technique and process.

And why do I say that this 2022 is a great year for holoportation? Well, because with a few months apart there have been two very interesting milestones. The first took place last April, when NASA used Microsoft’s Hololens Konnect camera with customized software developed by AEXA Aerospace to project holograms of a group of people to the International Space Station.

With this test, the US space agency began to experiment with a technology that, in the future, could be used in the context of missions to the Moon, Mars and other places to communicate with astronauts to convey critical information and lessen the feeling of isolation in space. It will also enable two-way communication, allowing astronauts to holoport to Earth and communicate with loved ones and others.

On the other hand, today we have learned of another successful test and that, furthermore, in this case it has been bidirectional and between two countries. As we can see in this video, researchers from Western University in Ontario, Canada, established a successful two-way connection with Alabama, United States. Those responsible for it consider that it is the first international bidirectional holoportation that has occurred.

talking heads

Holoportation is, today, the most advanced technique for a person to “teleport”But it’s not the only one, of course. Actually, who knows if also inspired by the teleportation of Star Trek, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) launched a research project in the mid-seventies, in order to find some safe system to allow, in case In an emergency, the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Chief Justice and the White House spokesman could remain together even though they are in different locations.

ARPA, later DARPA by adding Defense to its previous name, had already designed and launched in 1969 an intelligent telematics network, capable of automatically redirecting data traffic if any segment of it becomes inoperative. In the first phase of its deployment, it connected the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute, but new nodes were soon added. The name of this network was ARPANET and, as you probably already know, it was the backbone of the Internet until 1990, after completing the transition to the TCP/IP protocol model, which began in 1983.

Nicholas Negroponte recalls, in ​Being Digital, that he was hired for the remote teleconference system project and that, in order to provide greater realism to that “telepresence” in which they had to work, they devised to build some replicas of the heads of each of those people. This would have a life-size translucent mask in the shape of the person’s face. In said mask images of people would be projected and, in addition, the head could perform some basic movements. Each of the five people mentioned above would have a “set” of four talking heads and the necessary capture system to send their signal to the other four.

In the end, the project was not approved, but the current advances in teleportation are clear proof to me that Negroponte and his team advanced in the right direction, taking the first steps in the concept of telepresence.


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