Two places at once? USF leader turned hologram proves it’s possible

When USF College of Engineering Dean Robert Bishop needed to be in two places at once, rather than decline an invitation, his team created a way for him to appear at both events.

While listening to a student’s thesis in a college room, Bishop was simultaneously presenting to the USF Foundation board in the hallway, via a hologram.

“It’s been 54 years since we first saw holograms on Star Trek,” Bishop said. “At the College of Engineering, we are committed to being at the forefront of technology through applied research and world-class education. It’s just another example of our desire to push the boundaries of technology in everything we do.

Karen Romas, director of college development, suggested using holography as it was an opportunity to showcase the innovative side of the college and explore the use of new technologies.

“That’s how we learn! You have to get out of your comfort zone and that allows for your growth,” she said.

Ryan Wakefield, the college’s multimedia designer, brought this vision to life. Wakefield has worked as a multimedia designer for over 20 years. He’s seen USF students interact with robots, 3D printers, drones, and laser cutters, but this is the first time he’s led a project involving a hologram.

While researching holography, Wakefield discovered Holofan. The device produces high-resolution video that appears to float in the physical world. The holographic images are created by four fan blades that house a row of LED lights. The illusion of a hologram is created when these lights rotate. To play audio simultaneously, the Holofan connects to a wireless Bluetooth speaker.

Wakefield got to work! Before recording Bishop’s official video message for the Holofan, he experimented with sample videos to determine what works best. Crowds of fascinated students and professors gathered to watch the Holofan during one of Wakefield’s tests, where it played a generic video sample of a fish.

One of his main discoveries: the black color becomes transparent on the Holofan because of the red, green and blue lights used. After a series of trial and error – and making sure Bishop didn’t wear black during his recording – the hologram was a success. The end result: Bishop “attended” two events at the same time.

While holograms are most commonly used in the military for mapping, many believe holograms may be the future of remote work due to their ability to create a realistic virtual experience, allowing others to read language. bodily and improve the connection.

The college team plans to use the Holofan for future events and presentations.

“Until teleportation is a real thing, we have the next best thing!” Roma said.

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