IBM Predicts Hologram Mobile Phones in 5 Years

Dennis Faas's picture

IBM has revealed their annual "Five in Five" list, which highlights five innovations that the company predicts will change the lives of everyday people over the next five years.

Among the predictions turning heads is the belief that IBM researchers are five years away from enabling mobile phones to produce 3D hologram images of people talking and moving in real time. Image Princess Leigha's hologram inside R2D2 from the mega-smash hit movie Star Wars, and the experience may be similar.

3D Visual Images to be Displayed on Virtually Any Surface

Paul Bloom, IBM's CTO for telecommunications research, announced that IBM plans to use 3D video technology to create holograms on a speakerphone, thus revolutionizing the way people communicate over the next decade.

Said Bloom, "We see 3D video technology moving into the cell phone, which will have the ability to transmit information off the cell phone to create a 3D hologram, projecting the hologram on any surface in life size." (Source:

Bloom also pointed out the business (in addition to social) implications that such a product could have. By enlarging and walking next to a hologram, "a worker could project a 3D image of a product needing repair to walk inside it and detect problems. The repair person could go inside the device instead of looking it up in a manual."

Positive "Five in Five" Track Record

IBM's track record in predicting new technologies is impressive. One prediction from five years ago envisioned the concept of telemedicine, where data on patients would be transmitted hundreds of miles away to specialists around the world. IBM has since experimented with using 3D video images inside monitors to make diagnoses and, in some cases, even conduct remote surgery.

Other forecasts on the current list include:

  • YouTube video-based holograms
  • Lithium batteries that breathe air to power devices
  • Computers that share energy resources over entire cities
  • Personalized GPS navigation
  • Mobile phones that act as sensors to track seismic events or other Earth-based phenomena. (Source:

Obstacles to Overcome for Hologram Technology

While IBM believes a hologram prototype will be ready in five years, researchers are experiencing some growing pains in developing the technology. The cameras being used to create early versions of holograms still need to be scaled down and the software needs to be written for receiving input from those cameras.

Still, the news should create quite a bit of anticipation in regards to the future of mobile communications.

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