Can Hologram Technology Replace Business Travel? – IT Business Edge

While business travel used to be the norm, the last two years have put a strain on conferences and in-person events. Additionally, businesses that have gone without travel for this time period are now evaluating its continued necessity when they have so many technological advances at their disposal. One option for businesses is hologram technology.
In the late 1940s, Dennis Gabor, a Hungarian-British physicist accidentally discovered holography while trying to improve electron microscopes. However, the optical holography we think of today didn’t really come about until the laser was invented in 1960. 
A hologram is basically a recording of a 3D image that can be reproduced with the same amount of depth and detail as the original. Viewers can see the image from different angles, the same way they’d be able to see a real object. Holograms don’t require special equipment, like glasses or headsets to view, unlike similar technology.
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Business travel isn’t always feasible, and it’s very expensive, especially when you factor in flights, hotels, and meals. However, video calls can’t replace all forms of business travel. Conferences, for example, would have difficulties hosting their presenters over web conferencing solutions because of lag, unstable internet, and the inability to incorporate body language.
Instead, holograms allow subject matter experts to virtually be in several places at once to give their presentations and answer questions in near real-time. The technology is interactive like a Zoom call would be, but viewers get the experience of having someone actually on stage or in the same room as them. Plus, the audio and video quality is likely much higher. 
It sounds like something straight out of Star Wars, but ARHT Media is providing impressive hologram projections with a latency of .3 seconds or less. They’re able to project individuals all over the world with consistently high visual and audio quality. 
“Of the primary reasons why people use the technology, one is to get people to meetings that they can’t get to otherwise,” says Larry O’Reilly, CEO of ARHT Media. “And that could be a big conference, or it could be an important sales meeting with clients.” He also explains that it helps organizations reduce their carbon footprint by lowering the number of times they have people fly or drive throughout the year for business events.
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For the most part, hologram technology is best for large conferences or meetings that require subject matter experts. Pharmaceutical companies sometimes use it to present to several doctors at once without making them come to a big conference. 
On using the technology for everyday sales conversations, O’Reilly says, “For individual sales calls, it might be too, prohibitively expensive. However, it depends on who the sales call was with. If you are Federal Express, and you are having a sales call with senior executives at Amazon, you can imagine what they spend flying around in the air, right?” In these cases, the technology could potentially pay for itself several times over.
Holograms are also really helpful when you have collaborative presentations. O’Reilly explains, “Where the real value add on the virtual global stage, as compared to the streaming services, is when you have more than one person who’s presenting at the same time. If it’s just a one-to-one communication, the streaming services work great. But if you put more than four people on a Zoom call, it’s a little bit chaotic.” Body language is important for group conversations, signaling when someone has something they’d like to say, but you don’t always get that with web conferencing software.
For low-level sales calls and one-to-one internal communication, hologram technology is just too expensive right now to replace business travel. However, if your business has subject matter experts that travel multiple times a year or you put on large conferences where you have to pay for lodging and travel for presenters, hologram technology could quickly pay for itself. 
The best way to determine whether or not hologram technology is right for your business is to take a look at all of the travel your organization has sponsored in years past. Compare the yearly total to the cost of the technology and determine if the cost is worth switching. 
Additionally, consider what you stand to gain from big sales meetings. Hologram technology typically costs several thousand dollars, but if you stand to make several million from a contract, it’s probably worth the investment.
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