Innovation

From Jedi Council to Deepak Chopra: Tabletop versions of 3D holograms the next big thing

Yoda has nothing on Deepak Chopra, who is now presenting wellness workshops via holograms.

deepak-chopra.jpg

(left to right) Deepak Chopra; Dr. Simon Leung, vice chairman of NetDragon; and Paul Duffy, CEO of ARHT Media, and on a hologram, Poonacha Machaiah, co-founder and CEO of Jiyo.

Image: Ali Kaukas

Deepak Chopra is presenting some of his workshops via holograms called HumaGrams created by ARHT Media. TechRepublic's Teena Maddox spoke with Chopra about his vision for the technology, as well as with ARHT for details about the tech.

Blending technology and healthcare is the latest focus of Deepak Chopra, M.D., who is now using lifesize 3D holograms for his wellness workshops with plans to eventually offer a miniaturized tabletop version.

The holograms, which the developer, ARHT Media, has branded as HumaGrams, can be streamed online during Chopra's presentations and offer viewers the opportunity to have real-time, two-way conversations with the presenters.

Chopra first used the technology at his Sages & Scientists symposium in Los Angeles on September 9-11, 2016. The workshop was available online, and through Chopra's Jiyo app that he launched in June. At some points, more than 50,000 people were watching the program at the same time, Chopra said, calling it "the future" of how he plans to present workshops.

Chopra said eventually he plans to have tabletop versions of the hologram available. For "Star Wars" fans, this is reminiscent of how Yoda addressed the Jedi Council, although they're not true 3D images as with Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi, cautioned Paul Duffy, CEO of ARHT.

SEE: New holographic exhibit gives football fans the ultimate virtual experience (CNET)

Nevertheless, the result is amazingly lifelike, Duffy said, explaining that the workshop with Chopra was the first time they'd used live streaming with the hologram, and it worked seamlessly.

"We really came up with this overarching vision where we wanted to create a technology platform that would enable human to HumaGram interaction in any place imaginable. We studied it and thought, 'that's a pretty broad statement.' We thought by...utilizing the technology...we could take folks like Deepak and Tony Robbins and create the ability for these people to transcend time and geography and fundamentally be in more than two places at once and deliver their knowledge," Duffy said.

The technology is a lower-cost way for people to give presentations around the globe with traditional impediments such as travel eliminated. The presenter works in front of a green screen at one of the company's sound stages, which are located in Toronto, Hollywood, and China, with two more scheduled to open in London and Hong Kong, Duffy said.

Technology cannot be stopped now so we have to decide are we going to use it to ruin the world or use it to heal the world? It's up to us. Technology is neutral. Deepak Chopra

Once the presenter is filmed in front of the green screen, ARHT uses a smARHT media server at the sound studio to take the captured image and compress it, and stream it online, whether through the public internet or a private website. The smARHT media server at the endpoint takes the delivered signal and it's fused with multi-plane display technology to create a hologram, Duffy explained.

"We're yielding a never-before-seen capability where you can immerse your digital human in an almost Hollywood-style setting of special effects," Duffy said. "You can embed people right into that for an engaging experience."

There's a low-latency response for two-way, one-second voice delivery between the presenter and the audience, so that they can have a real-time conversation with each other, asking questions and giving responses, Duffy said.

Chopra said he enjoyed presenting his workshop with a hologram because it helped him reach more people at once.

"Technology is unstoppable right now so a lot of people are scared by it. That happens. Anytime you have something so totally disruptive people point out the dangers...but that's evolution. Technology cannot be stopped now so we have to decide are we going to use it to ruin the world or use it to heal the world? It's up to us. Technology is neutral," Chopra said.

The decision to present the Los Angeles workshop through a hologram began just two weeks before the workshop began. "If we'd had more time, we could have made it even more spectacular," Chopra said. "I would say if we had a little more space on the stage so that the screen could have been more upfront on the stage, you wouldn't have been able to tell it was a hologram."

The result was realistic, and Chopra said doing additional hologram workshops will save him travel time because it will allow him to be in more than two places at once.

"I think this has huge implications for education, for workshops, for bi-directional engagement, for entertainment. My vision is to combine it with augmented reality, with virtual reality, with a neural feedback with the monitoring of your emotions through microcirculation of your brain, your voice. We can be all interconnected in the world and be a global mind. We can actually practice real long-distance healing. You can get doctor consultations, you can get diagnoses, you can get advice on treatment. There is no limit to the integration of these technologies," Chopra said.

SEE: 7 ways AR and VR are changing the healthcare world (TechRepublic)

ARHT is also presenting hologram workshops with Tony Robbins and Larry King. And it has acquired the rights to Christopher Wallace, also known as Notorious B.I.G., who died in 1997. The agreement will allow ARHT to create a hologram of Notorious B.I.G. for a variety of purposes such as arena appearances, stage shows, concerts, and media campaigns.

ARHT Media was co-founded in 2012 by Rene Bharti and entertainer Paul Anka, and in April this year, NetDragon purchased 20% of the company and set up a joint venture in Asia called ARHT Asia.

The top 3 takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Deepak Chopra is now using 3D holograms for some of his workshops so that he can be in more than two places at once (online and in front of the green screen) and have real-time interaction with the audience.
  2. ARHT Media is the developer of the hologram technology that Chopra is using for his workshops.
  3. Chopra foresees a tabletop version of the hologram eventually becoming available for viewers of his presentations.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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