We’re Closer to Holographic Meetings Than You Think

in Vox/Recode


This all sounds exciting — and expensive. The introduction of any new technology also stands to carry with it unanticipated consequences. Smartphones introduced all kinds of anxieties over how much time we spend looking at screens, and there’s every reason to believe that a technology as immersive as augmented reality will have psychological effects as well. Creating new digital spaces also allows for more exclusion. Think of how the digital divide has led to vastly different experiences during the pandemic, as many with internet access are enjoying the benefits of remote work and learning while those without this access, or the option to go remote, are struggling to keep up.

Then there are concerns around what the technology itself can do. If you assume that smart glasses will be equipped with cameras and other sensors, it’s likely that they’ll introduce myriad privacy concerns. Todd Richmond, who is an IEEE member and director of the Tech & Narrative Lab at the Pardee RAND Graduate School for Public Policy, suggested to me that advanced facial recognition technology might work with smart glasses, so users could feasibly start scanning the faces of passersby and accessing details about their identities in real time. So while it might seem remarkable to have a meeting full of holograms, the same technology that powers those experiences could have potentially harmful applications elsewhere.

“We’re in a time where the world is struggling, and we have to be coming up with technological solutions that are equitable and sustainable,” said Richmond. “And that’s a hard thing to do, because it’s hard enough just to make the technology work.”