What is holoportation?

If there is a television series that has made several generations dream of the future for decades, there is little discussion of which title deserves a gold medal in this regard: Star Trek. Invented by the brilliant and somewhat eccentric Eugene “Gene” Roddenberry, it debuted with the classic series (the only one at the time, of course) in 1966, at a time when the space race was at its best, along with considerable advances in computers and many other technologies.

Some of the futuristic technologies featured in the 1960s series are part of our daily lives today, but others, more than half a century later, are still far from our reach. Chief among these is without a doubt the Curvature Engine, a key element for space exploration proposed by the series, but probably not the most desired by many. The most “remembered” phrase of the series (and I put it in quotation marks, because, curiously, it was never said) is Beam me up, Scotty, with which the expedition members asked the Enterprise’s chief engineer to teleport them. from Back to NCC-1701. So, yes, we are talking about teleportation.

Teleportation or, more precisely, teleportation of atoms, and even more so of the structures made up of them, is not yet foreseen either in the short or medium term, and there are many qualified voices suggesting that it will never happen. be possible. Personally, I think these last ones are some spoilers, but on the other hand, it’s quite clear to me that this is something that, if achieved, will be so long-term that I won’t see it, and I bet you won’t either. you will see (wow, now I’m a spoiler). I).

Thus, when registering for teleportation, we can trust the holoportation. I know it’s not the same, but not being able to eat a good cut of Kobe beef (no longer wagyu, I mean having a certificate of origin from Kobe) does not deprive me of the pleasure of a good piece of Galician beef, from the Sierra del Guadarrana or some juicy Argentinian dish. If my atoms cannot be teleported, at least my presence can be holoported.

What is holoportation?

It is likely that only with its name, or at least with its name and the previous paragraphs, you already had an idea, especially since this is not a very new technology. We already told you about it in 2016, and given its potential, its research has not stopped since then. And 2022 is proving to be an exceptionally important year in this regard as successful trials expand its capabilities.

In short, holoportation offers a real-time and remote holographic reproduction of a signal captured by 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 two (or more) people have both elements, they will be able to interact with each other as if they were both in the same place. And yes, having said that, it may seem like something simple, but it’s actually a particularly complex technique and process.

And why do I say 2022 is a great year for holoportation? Well, because within a few months there were two very interesting milestones. The first happened last April when NASA used a Microsoft Hololens Konnect camera with custom software developed by AEXA Aerospace to project holograms of a group of people onto the International Space Station.

With this test, the US space agency began experimenting with a technology that could be used in the future in the context of missions to the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere to communicate with astronauts to relay critical information and reduce feelings of isolation. in space. It will also provide two-way communication, allowing astronauts to holoport to Earth and communicate with loved ones and others.

On the other hand, today we learned about another successful test, and in addition, in this case, it was bidirectional and between two countries. As we can see in this video , researchers at Western University in Ontario, Canada have established a successful two-way communication with Alabama, USA. Those responsible for this believe that this is the first international bi-directional holoportation.

talking heads

Holoportation is by far the most advanced technique for “teleporting” a person, but, of course, not the only one. In fact, who knows, inspired by Star Trek teleportation, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) launched a research project in the mid-seventies to find some kind of secure system that would allow, in an emergency, the President of the United States, Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Chief Justice, and the White House Representative can stay together even if they are in different locations.

ARPA, later DARPA, adding Defense to its previous name, had already developed and launched an intelligent telematics network in 1969 capable of automatically redirecting data traffic if any of its segments went down. In the first phase of the rollout, it connected UCLA and Stanford Research Institute, but more 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 the transition to the TCP/IP protocol model was completed in 1983.

Nicholas Negroponte recalls in “Being Digital” that he was hired to design a remote teleconferencing system and that, to give more realism to the “telepresence” they had to work in, they came up with the idea of ​​making copies of the heads of each of them. of those people. This will be a life-sized translucent mask in the shape of a human face. In this mask, images of people were projected and, in addition, the head could perform some basic movements. Each of the five people mentioned above will 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 the field of teleportation are clear evidence to me that Negroponte and his team were moving in the right direction, taking the first steps in the concept of telepresence.

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