3D holographic projections: the future of election campaigns?

For the first time ever, 3D holographic projections will play an instrumental role in a national election.

Today it was announced that Indian Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who represents India’s second biggest political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will be using the technology to simultaneously project himself to more than 100 locations around the country.

Although not the first time the politician has used the technology – he made a Guinness World Record for simultaneously projecting to 53 locations during his 2012 state Assembly campaign – this is the first time it will be used in a national election campaign.

Indian political news website Nit Central quoted a BJP representative describing the event: “People will be called to a pre-defined location where they will get a feeling that Modi is standing among them and addressing them. With this technology, it will enable Modi to reach out to maximum people across the country without actually being present at various locations.”

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The only other politician known to have used the technology is Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who addressed regional members of his party via holographic projection.

Election campaign strategists from around the globe will no doubt be watching how Indian voters respond to Modi’s holographic presence.

In a country of 1.2 billion people, the technology makes reaching out to voters in different regions more achievable. However, some political analysts are concerned that it could make the politician seem aloof and out-of-touch with normal people, alienating him from voters.

If all goes well, though, holographic projections could become a standard feature in the madness of political campaigns around the globe.

Perhaps future US presidential candidates will ‘dine’ with potential voters in hundreds of different diners like Richard Nixon’s Head rival Chris Travers did in the Futurama episode Decision 3012.

Alternatively, political debates could not only be broadcast on TV and online, but could be projected as holograms in towns and cities around the country.

Given the impact that television had on the nature of presidential candidates, it would be interesting to see how holographic projections could impact candidate preference: perhaps the physical fitness of presidential candidates would become more important as individuals were able to see them close-up.

While the use of 3D holographic projections is in its infancy in political sphere, in the entertainment industry use of the technology is growing.

The long-deceased rapper Tupac Shakur performed with Snoop Dogg at Coachella Festival in 2012, in a show that may have fooled many if it weren’t for his famous death in 1996.

Holographic technology has also enabled the fictional band The Gorillaz to go on tour, provided the world with a “live” duet between Elvis and Celine Dion on American Idol and enabled humanoid persona Hatsume Miku to perform to thousands of fans.


Image of Narendra Modi courtesy of Rangilo Gujarati.


Eyes on Yellowstone: Satellite technology set to predict volcanic eruptions

As the number of animals fleeing Yellowstone park increases and fears that the park’s supervolcano will soon erupt grow, a group of scientists have found a method that could predict future eruptions.

Bison in the US park have been seen heading to the hills following recent seismic activity in the area that could lead to the massive underground reservoir of magma below the park erupting.

If a supererruption were to happen ash from the volcano could destroy our food supplies and also pollute the surrounding waterways, as well as stopping air travel. Some have even gone as far to say that and eruption could cover most of America in ash.

However a satellite that is launching today should allow the development of a forecast system for every volcano on earth – allowing scientists to see which may erupt next.

In countries where there is little data on volcanoes this could provide the only warning of an eruption, the scientists said, which has the potential to save lives.

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The scientists looked at archive of satellite data covering 500 volcanoes worldwide and were able to see where deformation – rock turning into magma – had occurred.

Satellite data can show high resolution maps of rock deformation, the researchers then worked out that 46% of deforming volcanoes erupted, whereas 94% of non-deforming volcanoes had not erupted.

The European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellite which is launching today should be able to provide information on deforming volcanoes and show which will erupt next.

Professor Tim Wright, Director of COMET, which is responsible for modelling natural events, said: “This study is particularly exciting because Sentinel-1 will soon give us systematic observations of the ups and downs of every volcano on the planet.

“For many places, particularly in developing countries, these data could provide the only warning of an impending eruption.”

“Improving how we anticipate activity using new technology such as this is an important first step in doing better at forecasting and preparing for volcanic eruptions,” said STREVA Principal Investigator, Dr Jenni Barclay.

The scientists have found volcano deformation and in particular uplift, are caused by magma moving or pressurising underground. They say magma rising towards the surface could be a sign of an imminent eruption – although a volcano may stop short of erupting.

Dr Juliet Biggs, from the University of Bristol, said: “The findings suggest that satellite radar is the perfect tool to identify volcanic unrest on a regional or global scale and target ground-based monitoring.”

“This study demonstrates what can be achieved with global satellite coverage even with limited acquisitions, so we are looking forward to the step-change in data quantity planned for the next generation of satellites.”