A Glimpse of the Future of Education?

Jun 15, 2008 by

Look closely at these three guys sharing the stage. Only one of them is actually there in the flesh. All three men see each other as if they were on stage together. They see the sweat on each other’s faces, the gestures they make, and whether they are smiling or look serious.

The two guys on the right are holograms. Beamed in live for a Cisco Systems event. The technology is called TelePresence. It was a collaboration between Cisco Systems and Musion. The in-the-flesh guy on stage is Cisco CEO John Chambers, on a stage in Bangalore. The other two guys are actually in San Jose, California, but they sure as heck look like they are talking on a stage in Bangalore. Did I mention that this was all done live? Not prerecorded? And that it was telecast live too? You can watch the recording of the live event at by visiting the Cisco On-Stage TelePresence site.

So, let’s say this technology takes a year to get perfected and three years to sink in to the business world. That means, that about 4-5 years from now, conference speakers might be able to beam themselves in for a live presentation at a conference center near you.

Once the technology infiltrates educational conferences, then we will start to see it show up on campuses in a limited experimental form for early adapters. Give it another 5 years to truly become affordable enough for the average household to begin adopting it (as their HDTV becomes out of date and holographic projection becomes all the rage).

What does this timeline mean? Ten years from now, we could be teaching as holograms in someone’s household. When we look out at our classes, some students might be there in the flesh and some might just be holograms.

What an incredible time we live in. Science fiction is becoming reality. I don’t think I can end this post without saying, Beam me up, Scotty!

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4 Comments

  1. Rob Jacobs

    Truly awesome! The impact on education could be enormous if properly applied. Classes could have guest speakers from anywhere in the world. Students could be taught by experts in any subject matter from around the globe.

  2. Powering Wireless Communications

    As it can be stored since it is data, the best lectures and seminars could be accessed anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a holodeck in your home).

  3. Robert

    Sci-fi author Vernor Vinge beat everybody to this technology, in his novel Rainbows End. The protagonists are students in a middle school, and the teacher teaches one period a day to an entire class of remotely-projected holograms.

    Actually there’s a lot of interesting speculation on the impact of ubiquitous computing and high-speed data networks on education there.

  4. Christie

    This is so awesome! This could really be a milestone for teaching when the teacher cannot physically be in the classroom, or for a student who could not be there. Technology in this time can do some truly great things for education!

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