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Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Shipmanagement gets the hologram treatment

AMG Logistics

Business travel is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for many years. One maritime company determined to stay in touch with its staff around the world is Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM), which has unveiled groundbreaking new hologram technology to innovate its training and business meetings, making famous scenes from movies such as Star Wars a reality.

“The future is already here,” said CSM president and CEO Mark O’Neil, as he addressed an audience in Manila as a hologram beamed from the Limassol offices of OneLearn Global, 8,906 km away.

O’Neil was able to appear as a life-size, 3D hologram, appearing in 4K resolution, talking to, seeing and hearing the people who were physically attending the event in Manila, even though he was six time zones away.

CSM has invested in this cutting-edge portal technology to not only elevate its training capability to new levels but to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to environmental sustainability by replacing excessive global travel with hologram-led international business meetings.

The hologram is so lifelike you would think the person was actually in the room with you

O’Neil said: “The equipment we use is high tech but very portable and takes the whole issue of speaker contributions to conferences or business meetings to a completely different level. A fleet director in one part of the world can mentor ships’ officers attending a conference in another, while customers and suppliers can have more intuitive and interactive meetings without having to step on a plane and fly thousands of miles to a meeting. This is tomorrow’s world happening today and we are delighted to be able to make it a reality.”

The hologram was able to happen thanks to technology developed by the Los Angeles-based company PORTL, which has worked with CSM for over a year perfecting the deliverable to fit the specific needs of the client.

O’Neil was filmed talking to the audience in a purpose-built capture studio in OneLearn Global’s offices in Limassol. He was able to see the audience based in the Nautilus Pacific Maritime Training Centre in Manila, while they saw him standing life size within an eight-foot tall, glass-fronted computerised box. These boxes, or portals, have built in speakers so the hologram’s voice can be heard, as well as cameras and microphones so the person appearing as a hologram can see the audience in front of his, or her, projection.

“There is next to no latency or delay to the transmission and the hologram is so lifelike you would think the person was actually in the room with you,” said Capt Faouzi Fradi, CSM group director crewing and training.

Development of the PORTL concept could, in time, see smaller, cheaper and more lightweight, portals become available, so opening up opportunities such as crew members on board a ship managing to keep in touch virtually with their loved ones, thousands of miles away.


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