Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam (left) and KT CEO Hwang Chang-gyu at the demonstration of the hologram video call at KT's headquarters in Seoul on Monday. / KT
We may not yet be ready for Star Wars-style holograms, like the iconic one of Princess Leia in "Episode IV - A New Hope." But we could soon be a step closer.
Verizon and South Korean carrier KT on Monday carried out what they called the world's first live hologram international call over their 5G trial networks, The Korea Herald reports. The new feature requires fast data speeds and low latencies to pull off, KT said, so it's really only possible on 5G networks -- which promise to be 10 to 100 times faster than the speediest existing networks.
But 5G is still well over the horizon for most of us. Verizon has plans to introduce 5G trial runs in a handful of test markets in the US this year, but widespread coverage by any carrier is likely two or more years away. When it does arrive, carriers enjoy telling us, the speed and responsiveness will spur advances in everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery.
And holograms, apparently. Monday's demonstration took place at KT's headquarters, where an employee of that company talked to a Verizon employee who appeared as a hologram image on a monitor. So it wasn't a Leia-style projection out of a machine and into thin air -- rather, it was apparently limited to a 3D image contained within a computer screen.
KT is developing the hologram live call as part of its 5G-based immersive media services that include its 360-degree Live VR, which allows people to watch virtual reality content across 360 degrees. This service will reportedly be made available for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea.
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam called the collaboration with KT "very productive," according to the Korea Herald. The company declined to offer additional comment. KT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.