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I'm hankering for a hologram

Possibilities are endless with 3D digital images

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Michael Jackson, seen here onstage in 1997, recently appeared as a hologram at the Billboard Music Awards — sparking Doug's desire for his very own three-dimensional image.

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Michael Jackson, seen here onstage in 1997, recently appeared as a hologram at the Billboard Music Awards — sparking Doug's desire for his very own three-dimensional image.

I am not what you would call a technology nerd, but I can't wait to get my hands on one of these things.

As most of you have already guessed, I am referring to my very own personal hologram.

I became obsessed with the notion of obtaining a digital representation of myself on Sunday night after watching a hologram version of the late Michael Jackson rock the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas.

And by "watching" it I mean hearing about it from my friend and colleague Sandra, arguably the biggest Michael Jackson fan in the universe, at her birthday party over the long weekend.

"DID YOU SEE IT?" Sandra chirped as I nibbled a slab of birthday cake. "IT WAS AWESOME! IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE!"

The point is, she was thrilled by the state-of-the-art technology that allowed the late King of Pop to make a dramatic and frighteningly realistic digital comeback performing Slave to the Rhythm, one of the singles from Xscape, a new album of posthumously released music.

I have to confess, when I checked it out online, I was mildly creeped out as the spectral holographic image of a younger Jackson, sporting a gold jacket and red pants, stepped down from a golden throne, then cavorted onstage with actual flesh-and-blood dancers before doing the pop icon's signature moonwalk with fire shooting all around him.

Some hardcore fans in the audience were seen openly weeping, whereas others were less enthusiastic. "Turns out this Michael Jackson hologram is just as confusing and uncomfortable as we imagined," New York Magazine's Lindsey Weber tweeted.

From what I have read and partially understood, the hologram's performance involved three weeks of rehearsal, eight hours a day with 16 dancers and top-secret technology that -- and I am going to take a stab in the dark here -- "had something to do with electricity."

The scientific point I am making is we, as a nation, must now decide whether this holographic technology represents a major breakthrough for mankind, such as insulin, or poses a devastating threat to life as we know it, such as disco music.

Personally, I am siding with my good friend, Sandra, because I think it would be a wonderful thing if owning a personal hologram became as easy as buying a personal computer.

Think about it, kids: We have been waiting far too long for a breakthrough such as this. I mean, what has science done for us lately? Sure, it's cured a lot of terrible diseases, but I am pretty (bad word) sure the future I dreamed of years ago was supposed to look a lot different than it does today.

When I was a snot-nosed kid, for example, I knew deep in my heart that, when I grew up, I would live in an underwater city covered by a giant plastic dome, fly around in my own personal jet pack and enjoy delicious five-course meals in the form of a pill no larger than a peanut.

Tragically, none of that has happened, but it now looks as though holograms are a technology whose time has finally come. Just think how awesome life would be if, whenever you felt like it, you could fire up a digitized projection of yourself.

In my case, I would no longer be expected to lie on the couch in the den with my wife and daughter watching reruns of sappy shows such as Gilmore Girls, wherein a mother and daughter form an intense bond by sharing their innermost feelings for 60 minutes without the aid of car chases and/or explosions.

While the human me was parked in the basement watching the NHL playoffs, the Digitized Doug would spend quality time with the family without the very real danger of being harangued for picking its holographic nose or making too much noise by rooting around at the bottom of a nearly empty bag of virtual potato chips.

Or imagine if your boss insisted you spend several hours in an incredibly stuffy and tedious business meeting to discuss the importance of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, but you sent a hologram in your place. You would probably end up getting a promotion because, while you were watching sports highlights and grilling cheeseburgers, the hologram would happily sit through the meeting and, unlike you, keep its eyes open the entire time.

Have to attend a five-hour piano recital? Spend the holidays with your wife's parents, who are still angry over the fact she could have married a doctor instead of you? Sounds like a job for Hologram Man!

The possibilities are literally endless. Best of all, this three-dimensional beam of light would be just like you -- only a little more lifelike.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 21, 2014 A2

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