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Holographics on display at International Confex 2018 not only created wow moments, but helped attendees visualise how telepresence could be used at their own events.

Imagine welcoming John F. Kennedy to your event, or sharing a platform with Nelson Mandela. How about getting HM The Queen to preside over your conference or The Beatles to play at your gala dinner? Sound like far-fetched fantasy? Seeing the latest holographic technology in action may change your mind.

This past week in London, holographics have been used at the conference and events industry exhibition International Confex 2018 to showcase how this ground-breaking visual medium can be applied to the meetings, conferences, and events world. Though we’re used to seeing holograms in sci-fi computer games, TV shows, and blockbuster films, there has been a giant creative and technological leap forward: Holographics are ready to jump off the screen and onto the stage.

To demonstrate the breadth of use holographics could bring to an event stage, one keynote speaker presenting at the show turned his body into a skeletal 3D graphic. The show moved on to present information — usually seen in a linear graph chart — as a moving graphic that could flex up and down as the indicators on the graph grew smaller or larger. Scientific models, intricate biological processes, and technical drawings can all benefit from holographic visuals. And this will mean a greater number of people have access to graphical information presented in a way unthinkable just a few years earlier.

While it’s easy to see how overlaying holographics will enhance presentations at medical and scientific conferences, the technology has a more practical application across all events as well. One of the most important uses of holographics to the events industry comes when a speaker cancels a presentation. Paul Colston, editor of UK’s Conference News has witnessed a case when “a high-profile celebrity pulled out of a speaking engagement at the last minute and he agreed to record a hologram address instead,” he said. “It pretty much saved the event. If it hadn’t happened, a lot of people stood to lose a lot of money, so it can be an issue of cost saving too.” The technology might not be in widespread use yet, Colston said, but that’s an example of an “amazing moment where it’s come into its own.”

Luke Clements, senior events marketing executive at Lifeplus Ltd., and International Confex attendee, said that he sees the implementation of holographics as being dependent upon the size of the event. “For me, it’s all about scale — how large can holographics go if you’re looking at an event involving thousands and thousands of people?” he said. “How flexible are the technical requirements to match up with all sorts of different sizes of events? I think this will be crucial in how the technology embeds more into the events scene and becomes more familiar to event attendees.”

Some event organisers are nonetheless sceptical that holographics will ever find a toehold in the events world. “I wonder about the personal touch,” said Nicola Baxter, an event planner at Bauer Media, who also attended International Confex. “In the flesh, speakers bring warmth, personality, and inspiration to a room. Can you get the same feelings from a hologram? I’m not sure. However, for international speakers who maybe can’t travel or if there’s a five-star celebrity speaker you really want, who can’t make it in person, it could work really well. And, of course, there are potentially tremendous cost savings that could be made and that’s always a consideration.”

For real — or not so real — this new application of technology may be about to significantly enhance the event attendee experience. Will Elvis play at your next event? With the help of telepresence, he may never have to leave the building.

For examples of use of holograms, visit musion3d.co.uk/.

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