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.”

modi

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.


Fighting cancer with nanotechnology: lasers, nanoballoons and nanoparticles

Blanket chemotherapy, the primary method for treating cancerous tumours, has long been seen as a very heavy-handed approach, but for many years nothing has matched it in terms of effectiveness.

But that could soon change. Today two entirely different approaching to fighting cancer were announced, which have two things in common. Firstly, they work using nanotechnology, and secondly, they are targeted solutions.

A targeted cancer treatment would be revolutionary for the field: no longer would the dreadful, exhausting side effects of conventional treatments have to be endured by already weak cancer patients. Instead tumours could be destroyed without risking damage to other parts of the body.

cancer

One cancer-busting approach uses magnetically controlled nanoparticles to make tumour cells self destruct.

Microscopic particles of iron oxide that have been magnetised using a special method are applied to the tumour cells. Once they are inside the cancerous cells, the iron nanoparticles are exposed to magnetic field.

Because they have been magnetised, this causes the particles to rotate, making them destroy the cancer cells.

This isn’t the first time magnetic nanoparticles have been tried to treat cancers, but it has the advantage over other approaches because previous attempts generated heat to damage the cancer. This had the unfortunate side effect of damaging surrounding healthy tissue, making it a risky treatment solution.

“The clever thing about the technique is that we can target selected cells without harming surrounding tissue. There are many ways to kill cells, but this method is contained and remote-controlled,” said Lund University professor Erik Renström.

An alternative solution still uses chemotherapeutic drugs, but in a way that makes the normal approach of whole body treatment seem like something out of the dark ages.

Instead concentrated doses of the medicine are encased in tiny nanoballoons, also known as PoP-liposomes, that are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, and are made of an organic compound with a substance similar to vegetable oil.

Nanoballoons have a curious property that researchers are yet to fully understand: they open when hit by a red laser that is completely harmless to humans. As a result, the drug-filled balloons could be triggered to open in the affected area of the body, treating the cancer while minimising side effects.

“Think of it this way,” said study author and University at Buffalo biomedical engineering assistant professor Dr Jonathan Lovell. “The nanoballoon is a submarine. The drug is the cargo. We use a laser to open the submarine door which releases the drug. We close the door by turning the laser off. We then retrieve the submarine as it circulates through the bloodstream.”

Both technologies are a long way from being ready for public use.

The nanoparticles team says there is a lot of work to be done before clinical trials on the solution can even start, and Lovell believes that the nanoballoon system could start clinical trials within five years.

Nevertheless, we can only hope this is the start of a whole new approach to cancer treatment.