Goodbye to working in your PJ bottoms: are full-length holograms the future of meetings? | Technology

Name: Proto M.

Age: Brand spanking new.

Appearance: A 60cm (2ft) box with a person trapped inside.

What’s new about this? Rob Brydon did a small man trapped in a box years ago. Yes, and Mike Teavee shrunk himself to get inside the television in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory back in 1964. But this is real.

Please elaborate. Proto M is a new “holoportation” device that allows users to see people in different locations as pint-sized, full-body, livestreamed “holograms”. “This is how world leaders will meet,” according to the CEO, David Nussbaum.

I see. And how is that possible? Erm, not with lasers?

Come on, you can do better than that. I’m not sure I can, but Nussbaum says they just use the word “hologram” to help people grasp the concept. It’s more a 3D digital likeness. “You are being projected as a 2D image, but the way your shadow and your reflection are being captured inside of a 3D space through a 4K camera creates this volumetric effect that convinces your brain that you’re looking at a hyperrealistic 3D twin,” one valiant attempt to explain it goes.

Let’s just call it witchcraft. Do both parties need a person-trapping box? No, to transmit to a box you just need a Proto app and account, a camera on a tripod and a blank screen to film against.

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I don’t understand why a “whole body” video meeting is a good thing. The advantage of Zoom meetings is being able to send snide WhatsApp messages out of shot, while wearing pyjama bottoms with the cat on my lap. “There’s much more emotional connection … than on a 2D display,” Nussbaum told the BBC.

Just what everyone craves from their colleagues. I do like the idea of seeing my boss as a business leprechaun though. How much will this set me back? The “business” model is available to order for about $5,000; cheapskates can wait for next year’s “consumer” version at only $2,000.

“Only.” It’s not just for meetings: Proto suggests using it to feel closer to friends and family, consult doctors, try on clothes and do more immersive exercise classes … You can even display your NFTs!

Well, that changes everything. Surely “sex stuff” is the elephant in the box here? Unclear, but Nussbaum also told the BBC it’s “like if Zoom and being there in person had a baby”, which is vaguely raunchy.

Do say: “Meeting inside a box: it’s the new thinking outside the box!”

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Don’t say: “Is it OK to feel completely alienated by a world in which tech bros are reductively hacking our hunger for human connection for profit?”


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