This month Portl, a startup that has raised millions in funding to commercialize hologram technology, released this 90-second spot for their desktop Model-M. Take a look at their proposed use cases:
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Did you see a single application that made a strong case for why this couldn’t just be a 2D screen? Perhaps the demos are more compelling in person; indeed it must be challenging to present the “wow” factor of 3D through a 2D video. But I think as long as the image is confined within a rectangular border, it doesn’t provide much improvement over 2D beyond the same gimmicky “wow” factor of seeing a 3D movie.
Admittedly, I might change my tune if I used one in person and found that rotating a holographic CAD model actually did provide some insights that couldn’t be appreciated in 2D. I also may be personally biased; when I started out in ID nearly 30 years ago, we were doing orthographic views on a drafting board, and if you wanted to spin something around in 3D, that happened in your head. It was part of your training and a required ability. Today, being able to do that with CAD on a 2D screen is still mind-blowing to me, and is such an improvement that I can’t imagine holograms being any better. So that may be a limitation of my own imagination.
I also think the concept of having full-body videoconferences is a terrible one. Zoom already has its drawbacks, but one benefit is that you only have to be presentable from the chest up, and you can conduct conferences while all parties are sitting. In Portl’s vision, we’re meant to be fully dressed head to toe, and stand to face the camera. Is this what consumers want? (I’d also be curious to read surveys by gender to see what the preferences are. By last year, Forbes and other media outlets reported that Zoom fatigue is worse for women, given societal expectations of self-presentation.)
Lastly, the shot of two dudes holding beers while one shows off his NFTs to the other left me grimacing.
I’m either just not the target market, or I’m being unfair to the device given the limitations of demonstrating one on YouTube. What are your thoughts on this thing? Do you want one, and would you find it useful?