Chat via hologram could be household reality

01:43, Jan 31 2009
MIND BOGGLING: Live chat via hologram is a step closer to being a household reality. Auckland comedian Jeremy Corbett has a chat with Aussie celebrity Rove McManus - or at least his hologram, beamed across the Tasman.

Forget conference calls or video crosses - beaming your hologram for a live chat is a step closer to becoming a household reality.

In what TelstraClear says is a national first, a walking, talking image of Australian chat show host Rove McManus was beamed across the Tasman yesterday to appear live on stage at Auckland's Vector Arena.

There "Rove" joked with Auckland comic Jeremy Corbett and TelstraClear chief executive Allan Freeth, before making way for musician Che Fu, who performed alongside a pre-recorded hologram of himself.

It was all rather mind-boggling for the 500-plus business leaders invited to see what the company's Next IP network could do.

"IP network, that just means fibres and computers instead of coppers and switches," Dr Freeth said. "Next IP is about very fast, very capable networks ...

"Take the Bledisloe Cup. Imagine every second of every game played - Next IP can transport that from Auckland to Sydney in under 75 seconds."

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Costing TelstraClear $1.4 billion, the IP, or Internet protocol, allows the company's network to stretch from Whangarei to Invercargill, as well as across the Tasman, where it meets parent company Telstra's Next IP global network, which in turn links to 35 countries.

"It opens a new frontier for business and a more productive way of using technology to bring the world to you," said Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo, who was also present in hologram form.

"It can turn what many think of as science fiction into reality."

Though the likelihood of Kiwis using the hologram technology to chat to family members overseas is several years away, businesses will be able to tap into the technology sooner than they might think.

TelstraClear plans to roll out TelstraPresence lounges in Auckland and Wellington, where businesses separated by the length of the North Island may conduct meetings.

High-definition screens built into boardroom-like desks will give users the impression that they are sitting across the table from each other.

"It's so good you'll be able to see the beads of sweat dripping when the decision making gets a little heated," Dr Freeth said.

"It's not quite holograms - we're not quite there yet - but it's not too far away."

The Dominion Post