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Is a professor with holographic telepresence still a professor?

May 17th, 2018

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May 14-16, Sweden and Stockholm hosted the 2018 Global Conference organized by AMBA, Association of MBAs. Deans and programme directors from Business Schools all over the world convened to share experiences and to get updates on Executive MBA programme best practices, on AMBA’s direction and on innovations from the global MBA industry.

AMBA is a UK-based not-for-profit organisation which has been around for 51 years now. One of its many objectives related to the advancement of executive education is to feature digital innovation in education. This year, as delegates to the conference we could for the very first time experience a live, fully interactive 3D colour hologram session, as Larry O’Reilly, CEO of Canadian company ARHT media participated in person in Stockholm. Larry vividly presented to and interacted with us delegates – but remotely, from the comfort of his HQ in Toronto. You find my short video clip from the live 3D session here!

As AMBA chose to pitch the session in its conference programme: is this Star Wars science fiction, or the future of Business School teaching? That is much too early to say, but the 40 min demo session provided some valuable insights:

1. ARHT media (“HT” as in “Holographic Telepresence”) claims 90% of the equipment needed to record 3D hologram sessions is standard off-the-shelf gear (and hence reasonably priced). Hologram and 2-way audio transmission takes place in encrypted format over the public internet (10 Mbit up- and downlink is required). To project the 3D hologram at the receiving end, ARHT media used a proprietary 3m x 2,5m passive mesh “screen”. “The high-resolution 3D hologram is created through back projection from a unit placed on the floor behind the mesh screen,

2. The level of live interactivity was really quite impressive: no perceivable latencies in 3D video or sound. What is then the presenter’s sensoric view of his audience? There is full bi-directional audio and two cameras in Stockholm provided Larry with (traditional, flat 2D) views of the audience and of the stage,

3. During the 3D hologram demo session, we experienced both pre-recorded and live parts. A pre-recorded session can also embed advanced, animated graphics, whereas a live lecture session can use a green screen, just like any video-taped 2D presentation session would,

4. Will academic faculty embrace this format for live or pre-recorded lectures in the near future? I believe that will be a matter of personal taste and interest in adopting new disruptive technologies like 3D holograms. From an IP (Intellectual Property) protection point of view, I believe the proprietary smARHT Platform can actually provide an increased level of assurance to faculty about their content not finding its way to YouTube or other public domain platforms, at least not very easily so,

5. Just like you would expect, when asked during the Q&A, ARHT media chose not to disclose any list prices or indicative prices (their EMEA sales representatives would be more than happy to engage in any 1-on-1 dialogue with you, though). My assumption is that if and when this technology scales and is widely adopted, prices will come down radically to reach a level where the business case holds for a regular and repetitive use by Business Schools, well beyond the “wow-sessions” run to date by celebrated presenters, such as the late Stephen Hawking, motivational speaking superstar Tony Robbins and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

More info about ARHT media, their solutions and their technology can be found at www.arhtmedia.com.

 

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