back to article Reg hack attends holographic WebEx meeting, blows away Zoom fatigue

In October 2021, Cisco announced WebEx Hologram – an augmented reality meeting experience that promised "photorealistic, real-time holograms of actual people" and the chance to "share physical and digital content". Today I tried a prototype of the service, and can report it is … intriguing. Participating in a WebEx Hologram …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Holographic porn.

    When it gets good enough to enable realistic/believable porn, that is when the masses will adopt it. Until it can do that, the only people that will be interested will be the reporters getting freebies from the companies trying to generate any reaction above a "meh".

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Holographic porn.

      "...Another wiggle or two and I burst out of the cockpit and into the engine cavity..."

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Holographic porn.

        The WebEx Alien game lets you play as a xenomorph.

    2. Def Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Holographic porn.

      Will that also include virtual parents bursting in at inopportune moments?

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Holographic porn.

        "I'd pay attention for longer in a hologram because it is properly immersive."

        Immersion is keyed to content. A boring presentation in holo-3D is still a boring presentation. The author was engaged because he enjoyed the tech; to him it was new and shiny. Do the same thing ten times and listen for the yawns.

    3. elDog

      If it gets real enough, that's the end of actual procreation.

      And a solution to the population crisis.

      Probably doesn't help with the climate crisis since those machines will need lots of juice.

  2. Esme

    Holography?!

    Maybe I'm being pedantic, but to me that's not holography, it's 3D telepresence with some virtual reality thrown in that mimics the experience of looking at a holographic image or iage stream (exceeds it in fact, due to the VR part).

    Sounds like fun to me, although it'd have to be very cheap for me to use it. Meanwhile, where's my proper holographic TV I was promised as a kid? Same warehouse as my personal spaceship?!

    1. that one in the corner Bronze badge

      Re: Holography?!

      Came here to say the same thing.

      In the late 80s I used to work with a chap whose Masters project was to calculate and plot diffraction patterns which were photo-reduced down to produce viewable holograms. We've been waiting since then for the display technology to get down to small enough scales to do this trick live, for the masses.

      But at least the AR gadgets use stereoscopic 3D; that is a bit better than the - people - who try to claim that a Pepper's Ghost projection is a hologram (whether it is a cheap plastic pyramid on your mobile phone or a massive sheet of glass on stage at a hundred quid per ticket, it is just a parlour trick!)

    2. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Holography?!

      Absolutely correct.

      Just because an image "looks 3D" or appears ot "float in the air" does NOT repeat NOT make it a hologram.

      Stop misusing a term which has a very definitive meaning.

      These are NOT holograms any more than those "Tupac" things were which by the way were video versions of the Victorian "Pepper's Ghost" illusion.

      East way to tell...

      Blank off the display for one eye. Then using the other eye, holding the headset in your hand (better still on tripod so it doesn't move), move your head around to change the viewing position of your eye in relation to the single eye display of the headset - particular viewing from a position to the left and right of the image.

      For it to stand ANY chance of it being a hologram, the view your single eye sees from the left should be distinclty different from the view it sees from the right IN THE SAME IMAGE i.e. there shouold be parallax just by moving where view it form WITHOUT moving the headset.

      That is the whole point of visual holograms and basis of the name hologram.

      One image contains MANY points of view simultaneously. You change which you see by changing WHERE you view it from. NOT by changing the image.

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Holography?!

        "Just because an image "looks 3D" or appears ot "float in the air" does NOT repeat NOT make it a hologram."

        Correct, but it makes it different enough from existing VR patents so they don't have to pay out royalties.

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Re: Holography?!

          I've no problem with that - but they should stop calling them what they are NOT which is "holograms".

          They are using it as a marketing "gimmick" because calling them what they really are doesn't sound anything like as "cool" as "hologram". Whereas calling them "holograms" conjurs up mental images of the "hologram" effects in Star Wars in the hope of selling product (IMHO under false pretences)

          At least in the Star Wars films the special effect immitation "holograms" at least reproduced the impression of some of the properties of real holograms. When you saw the Princess Leia "hologram" from Luke's POV looking towards Leia, you saw her from the front. The shot looking from behind the Leia image towards Luke and Ben showed the correct view of the back of Leia.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Holography?!

      ...and flying cars...

  3. TeeCee Gold badge
    FAIL

    Again?

    Another one from the: "ooo iz 3D nows and wilz change wurld, yes?", pile.

    The only thing of interest willl be whether it gets a slight adoption before interest peters out and it dies, or just a "meh".

    HINT: Absolutely nobody wants to hamper themselves with goggles / glasses / gloves / headsets / exoskeleton / whatever to do their job or enjoy their entertainment.

    1. breakfast
      Terminator

      Re: Again?

      Either quite a few people would be excited to don Exoskeletons for their jobs or the entire history of mech anime has been a massive lie.

      I already have to hamper myself with glasses to do my job (although it's not so hampery as I do also wear them the rest of the time) so I think I could get by. Likewise a lot of people have to wear gloves to do their jobs - gardeners, builders and the like often have to wear a whole lot of specific gear and they don't seem to mind too much, so I guess those of us who work at a computer could manage it at a pinch. They would have to offer clear value, though, and I have yet to see anything convincing on that front.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: Again?

        I've seen reports of exoskeletons in use in Japan -- a couple of companies providing models with different features. For example, actually helpful for old small-scale farmers (a protected species in Japan as elsewhere) doing manual labor around the farm, lifting and placing.

        Since I haven't seen reports outside of Japan, I can only assume that the cost is too great for general commercialization

  4. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Re "I came away from the experience impressed and intrigued, but without a clear sense of how this technology will improve productivity. It is unclear to me, for example, how much effort is required to create virtual objects."

    I think this comment (from the article) sums up my thoughts in all these attempts to introduce new technologies to online meetings.

    I love VR, and play with my Quest 2 most days. I also have a slight interest in using VR more, even for work.

    So, I've followed the hype behind things like Meta's attempts to get home working and meetings working with VR. I've also tried various apps that supposedly recreate the feeling of being with your co workers.

    I've seen the videos of Oculus avatars all floating around a whiteboard having a meeting, or all looking at various web pages. Not everyone's job is like that. Not everyone has cosy little meetings about the look of a webpage (although I can understand that the staff at Meta would).

    I'm working partly from home and partly from the office ATM. Ironically, a lot of my job involves remote access to PCs and VMs, so in theory could benefit from working in VR, but it really doesn't benefit.

    None of the above has increased my productivity, and none has offered me a real, tangible advantage over running Teams on my PC at home. In fact, running Teams on my PC has the advantage that it's easy to walk away from the PC without having to remove your headset, which is probably plugged in via USB (even with the extended battery I have, I'm lucky to get more than 4 hours use without charging) and may also have a set of headphones attached. Actually getting away from the screen for a bit every hour or so is actually good health and safety advice. You don't need to physically move, just point your eyes somewhere else for a couple of minutes.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "I'm working partly from home and partly from the office ATM. Ironically, a lot of my job involves remote access to PCs and VMs, so in theory could benefit from working in VR, but it really doesn't benefit."

      If your work involves pixels on screens with no 3D view necessary (pretty much all developers, sysadmins etc), 3D view is unlikely to benefit. The real benefit is in the replication of physical objects that can be observed and manipulated without having to transport the human observer or the object half way around the world (or even across a building especially for large/bulky objects).

      There are surely lots of applications in engineering / architecture, manufacturing of physical products, and medical (remote diagnostics and possibly even remote basic surgery).

      1. Scene it all

        I have never been in a meeting that required 3D presence. The only thing we look at other than each other's faces is either a whiteboard (2D surface) or the paper in front of us (another 2D surface). That this is happening in a 3D room with a table and chairs is irrelevant and a distraction. I would much rather have a 2, or 3-screen monitor setup, with big monitors, arranged on my desk, with a real window so I can see outside. It would probably cost a fraction of what these 3D things do.

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        There are surely lots of applications in engineering / architecture, manufacturing of physical products, and medical (remote diagnostics and possibly even remote basic surgery).

        I saw such applications 15 years ago, with perfectly working solutions, to simulate maintenance on hardly reachable environment. 15 years ago, those solutions are still mostly confined to the labs where they were created.

        3D view can be great, but it exists for a long time and didn't find a real place IRL. Maybe that will change in the future but I'm far to be convinced.

    2. iron Silver badge

      > headset, ... even with the extended battery I have, I'm lucky to get more than 4 hours use without charging

      Wow that is a really bad headset. Get an EPOS wireless headset (Sennheiser) and you'll enjoy 100 hours of use between charges. I charge mine about once every 2 or 3 weeks and it's used for business and games every day.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        He meant VR headset, not audio

        Admittedly, the OP didn't phrase it all that clearly.

        Wireless VR headsets have 2 hour batteries as standard. Doubling that with a second one is easy enough, but "up to" four hours is still only half a working day.

        Audio headsets are easily available with far longer battery life. Though TBH I don't think there's much point beyond maybe 20 hours of active time - enough for a long-haul flight.

        Charging once every 2-3 weeks is cool and all, but makes it far more likely you'll forget.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Gene Cash Silver badge

    It's great!

    This will take off and be a staple of everyday life like 3D TV did! Oh... wait...

  6. HildyJ Silver badge
    Meh

    Two stumbling blocks

    First, the headset. What is needed is a Google Glass like headset (with the capability to insert prescription lenses).

    Second, the resolution needs to be massively improved. All of the speculated real world applications require something like millimeter precision.

    For now it's a neat idea with almost no real world applications and I don't see that changing in the next few years.

    Bonus third stumbling block - porn, of course.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that Zorro in the picture?

  8. NATTtrash
    Trollface

    Head sizes

    "This was not an intuitive thing to do, as my head is substantially larger than the model I was shown."

    You're in management, right?

  9. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Don't see the appeal

    Clearly 3D VR, and VR in general, appeals to some folks. Perhaps to most, for all I know. Sounds dreadful to me, though.

    I didn't like VR when I first tried it in the 1980s (at SIGGRAPH), and I don't like it now.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Re: Don't see the appeal

      "I didn't like VR when I first tried it in the 1980s (at SIGGRAPH), and I don't like it now."

      Different strokes. Although, in my experience, the people who say they do not like VR tried it first on cheap headsets (or cell phone / cardboard combos) with low and unstable frame rates caused by a potato PC. That resulted in nausea and their panic grabbing of the nearest bin after 15 min.

      My GF's first experience on my HTC Vive Pro 2 lasted two hours and she giggled madly throughout.

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