I saw this article on BBC and it made me a little angry – not going to lie. The title is How hologram tech may soon replace video calls. This article is posted on the BBC a reputable news site that is pretty respected around the world. This article was published in their business section.
The tech itself is pretty impressive. A person sits or stands in front of a camera with a white back drop and their image is beamed (with nearly no lag) to a 7 foot tall rectangular box anywhere in the world that shows the person in 3D. It looks good – check out their YouTube video below.
It’s neat right? So why am I angry with this article? Well it presumes that this technology may very well replace video calls. What a load of crap (sorry for the harsh language). This technology will never make it into mainstream businesses, homes and certainly not schools.
I am perturbed because it feels like the BBC is trying to get you excited about an idea that is not feasible (at least right now). They sound more like a commercial for Portl than an actual news report. They are more wowed with what it can do as opposed to what problems can it solve.
On top of all of that this company is pretty sketchy. When you head to the Portl website (https://www.portlhologram.com) and start to poke around you see some weird things. Like a new product called the M by Portl (https://www.portlhologram.com/m). They have a very nice video you can watch below.
What looks sketchy is the “Reservation” screen. check out the screenshot below.
- You pay $100 to reserve one.
- No timeline of when (if) it will arrive.
- No mention or estimate of the final price.
- No real tech specs (HDMI? USB-C?)
- No tech computer requirements given.
- Camera requirements?
- What are the speakers used?
So, your $100 gets you a spot in line and . . . ?
But hey, this company was highlighted on a reputable news source so we should trust that they are on the up and up.
Credit where credit is due
I am not saying this is vaporware. I know they made the Portl Epic (the big 7 foot tall booth). It works, it is pretty cool, but it does cost about $60,000 for the Epic and who knows how much for the M (if it ever ships or even ships with all those features). They did make it but it’ll never sell and certainly not to schools and certainly won’t be for everyone to use everyday.
My real problem
These articles present this vision of the future with emerging technology today, but they don’t talk about the feasibility of it. Why does it cost so much now? What will it take for the price to come down? Who else or how many other people are working on this type of technology (not something similar)? There is no questioning, no probing, just reporting what the company says. As a person who hears a fair number of sales pitches, this article feels like that and I don’t appreciate it from my news sources.
I was super excited with Magic Leap and everyone slurped up their sales pitch without even being allowed to see or try their project. Then when they did get to try it out it failed to even come close to the hype that was generated around it. This is the same thing and I just wish that
Sorry for the rant – I am just tired of good news sources either getting duped by dubious companies or simply pushing their dubious products on their readers.