The Future is Calling

Oct 22, 2018

When we think of a hologram, it’s usually the stuff of science fiction that comes to mind. But as Verizon, Korean Telecom and Vodafone all make significant advancements in the world of 5G technology, it’s set to become not just fantasy, but reality. Join us as we explore how we could be witnessing the start of a whole new future for the phone call.

On April 3rd 2017, history was made when telecommunications giant Verizon and Korean Telecom held the world’s first live hologram international call service. Using 5G networking, a KT employee held a face-to-face meeting with a Verizon representative. But this wasn’t your average meeting, as one employee was in KT’s headquarters in Central Seoul and the other in New Jersey – appearing as a hologram image on a tablet. When asked about this pioneering phone call, a KT spokesperson said “when the 5G network is commercialised, 3D hologram video calls will be available… you’ll be able to meet a person in a remote area in real size, in real time.” They’ve also discussed partnerships with other global network providers in a quest to make holographic calls accessible to all as soon as possible.

And ‘soon’ just became a lot closer, because last month, Vodafone made the UK’s first holographic phone call using 5G technology. The call was made from Vodafone’s Manchester office, with England and Manchester City Women’s Football Captain, Steph Houghton MBE, being projected before an audience at The Vodafone Future Ready Conference in Newbury. On the call with Steph was a young football fanatic, 11-year-old Iris, who was delighted to listen to tips from one of her idols – not quite in the flesh, but nearly as close. Vodafone announced in June that seven cities will become a part of their 5G trial areas, and hopes it will drive innovation and growth across the UK. And it seems this call alone has demonstrated how this exciting technology could open up new teaching and learning opportunities.

While Verizon, Korean Telecom and Vodafone have all stated that it’s early days for this technology, it hasn’t stopped other experiments with 5G taking place. Last year, a Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London, Mischa Dohler, demonstrated what it would look like if he performed a live concert with his daughter over a hologram phone call, and just this week it’s been announced that an Amy Winehouse hologram tour is set to take place in 2019. It’s no surprise networks around the world are racing to lead the way, because unlike VR, which currently requires users to wear headsets, 5G will be accessible to everyone on their phones. This technology delivers a much more personal experience, as people will appear to be present even when they’re thousands of miles away. And the opportunities it presents for businesses and organisations to work together via virtual conferences are boundless.

It’s no coincidence that the groundbreaking world-first holographic phone call was made exactly 44 years to the day the first mobile phone call was made on April 3rd 1973. So who know what the next 44 years will have in store? Whatever it may be, it’s clear that brands and consumers will always place a huge amount of focus on communication, whether it manifests itself through voice, type or hologram.