As visitors of museums, we are used to seeing animals that no longer exist as stuffed objects on display. To imagine how a dinosaur would look, move and sound, museums display bones, replicas and videos, but that still doesn’t live up to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.
Now imagine when you enter a museum you are immersed in a world of holographic dinosaurs that look, move and sound just like the real thing. Imagine if a fight between the Spartans and Romans was holographically taking place right in front of your eyes.
This is the future, this is what Wellington’s Te Papa museum is currently investing in – holograms. In August this year New Zealand hologram startup Point Zero was one of 10 startups chosen to take part in the museum’s first ever accelerator program, Mahuki. Point Zero has planted its focus on enhancing visitor experiences to the museum through interactive holograms.
Earlier this year Point Zero launched its first holographic product, HoloSpace. The product is believed to be the world’s first interactive customisable hologram technology for commercial use and has the potential to change they way information and now history is represented.
Leading up to Te Papa’s accelerator program, Point Zero has also been exploring other industries, working with the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research on assessing how virtual technology applications can help explain complex medical jargon. Holograms can be used to help doctors explain medical diagnosis and treatment plans to patients with cancer.
The startup creates hologram visualisations of a doctor’s research. For example a patient stands behind a screen and through a hologram both patient and doctor can see the placement of organs and even the size and locations of tumors. Visualising how cancer looks internally on a person can help explain the effect chemotherapy treatments have on the body.
This is just one of the applications of holograms and now Point Zero is looking to use the same technology to reimagine museum artefacts and how history is displayed.
Te Papa asked the startup community what they would do differently in the museum. Point Zero saw how holograms could be used to make museum visits more interesting.
“Instantly what came to mind is, museums have heaps of exhibitions with stuffed animals or extinct animals and we thought, what if we brought them back to life in a hologram,” said cofounder of Point Zero, Chris Mather.
“The Moa is a huge bird. It’s like an emu but two metres high. It’s an extinct animal from New Zealand and if we could bring that back to life you could see how enormous they were and you could interact with them. They could peck at you and if you run at it it could get scared and run away for example,” he explained.
It’s possibilities and applications like this that make Mathers and his team excited to be apart of the Te Papa accelerator. Te Papa has one of the biggest collections of fish in the world and Point Zero could even make virtual fish tanks to give the feeling people are under water.
These ideas and concepts are large scale projects, but with the help from the museum and funding from Victoria University, Point Zero can further commercialise its holograms and forever change the way we interact with spaces like museums.
To date Point Zero has raised $40,000 in capital and will shortly be receiving seed funding from Te Papa.
The world has already seen the use of holograms where in 2014 at the Billboard Music Awards Michael Jackson was brought back to life. However commercially speaking, holograms are still at the very early stages.
Tui Te Hau, general manager of Mahuki, said that the new program is a unique opportunity to tap into the creativity of innovators in New Zealand.
“Mahuki offers these innovators the chance to work in Te Papa’s unique environment, with access to knowledge, collections and expertise, and a chance to market test with our millions of visitors,” she said.
For the next 12 months Point Zero is going to continue its focus on how hologram technology can be used for different industries and sectors. Mather also hinted that the startup will be looking to create large interactive displays for Fortune 500 companies.
Image: Chris Mather, Gabi de Groen and Peter Walter. Source: Supplied by Felicity Jane Powell.