In 1998, Communications Systems Design magazine asked me to write an article about communications twenty years out, i.e. in 2018. I chose to write about IP communications and ended by projecting we'd have 3D holographic virtual presence conferencing by 2018. This wasn't too much of a stretch given academic work going on at the time. I assumed Moore's law would continue to apply, did some simple math and edited the result down to 700 words. Since then I haven't tracked the field in detail, but I do take notice when I stumble on interesting news articles or product offers.
On Monday evening, at the World Technology Summit, I had a wide ranging discussion with David Ellis, in-house futurist at the Detroit Medical Center. Among other things, he mentioned experimenting with a 3D projection system from 3dh Corporation. He's evaluating it for telemedicine, as their hospital has several separate campuses. The 3dh system doesn't use true holograms. It requires special glasses. But apparently it is producing very credible results.
Everyone remembers the vivid holographic image of Princess Leia that the robot R2D2 produced in the original Star Wars movie. Now I'm thinking 2018 was pessimistic. Assuming only a Moore's law progression of 1998 techniques ignores the rich inventive capability of the human species. It now appears I'll have 3D virtual presence communications well before 2018.