Let’s talk about the future of mixed reality on stage, inspired by the recent ABBA Voyage concert in London.
If you’re not already aware, the concert features digital avatars, or holograms, of the ABBA pop stars themselves, created using motion capture technology. It’s a stunning display of how immersive technologies can mix live and recorded music with digitized performances. But what does this mean for the future of entertainment and education? Let’s dive in.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that the use of avatars in entertainment and education is not new. In fact, I first became aware of this concept back in the 1990s anime called Macross Plus. In the series, there was a virtual idol named Sharon Apple, who was the biggest pop star in the universe. However, she wasn’t a real person; instead, she was an artificially generated construct that created music and did concerts in the form of holograms. Fast forward to 2022, and the ABBA Voyage concert has brought this concept to life in a whole new way.
One of the most interesting things about the concert is how the ABBA stars have taken ownership of their digital twins. In the past, estates or other entities have controlled the use of a deceased artist’s likeness. However, in this case, the ABBA stars themselves have taken control, giving them a say in how their digital twins are used. This is an exciting development, as it means that artists can continue to perform even after they’re gone, and can be involved in the creative process from beyond the grave.
The use of avatars in entertainment also has significant implications for education. For example, I’ve been experimenting with digital twins of my office and classrooms at my university, and I’ve been using them in virtual reality environments to train students in world diplomacy and leadership. In a time when travel is restricted due to the pandemic, digital twins can provide an immersive experience that replicates the real thing. But how exactly are these holograms created? Well, it all starts with motion capture technology. This technology involves capturing the motion of a person and creating a digital twin that can be used in a variety of ways. In the case of the ABBA Voyage concert, the motion of the real ABBA stars was captured in a motion capture studio, where they were filmed from every angle. This data was then used to create the digital twins that were used in the concert. The holograms are then projected onto the stage using a variety of technologies, including transparent displays. Transparent displays have been available for the last five to ten years, and they allow for holograms to be projected onto a stage without the need for a physical screen. This is a significant development, as it allows for more immersive experiences that blur the lines between the real and the digital.
So what does the future hold for mixed reality on stage? Well, the ABBA Voyage concert is just the beginning. As technology continues to advance, we can expect to see even more immersive experiences that combine live performances with digital content. In fact, it’s not hard to imagine a future where concerts are entirely virtual, with audiences tuning in from around the world to watch holograms of their favorite artists perform in a digital space. Of course, there are some potential drawbacks to this future. For example, some people might argue that virtual concerts lack the energy and spontaneity of live performances. Others might worry about the impact of mixed reality on the job market, as more and more jobs become automated. These are valid concerns, and it’s important to consider them as we move forward.
One interesting application of mixed reality technology is in education. As I mentioned earlier, I have been experimenting with creating digital twins of classrooms and other educational environments to provide students with immersive and interactive learning experiences. Imagine being able to take a virtual tour of a historical site, or conduct a science experiment in a fully immersive virtual laboratory. Mixed reality technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we learn and teach. But as with any technology, there are potential drawbacks and ethical considerations to keep in mind. For example, there is the question of ownership and control of digital twins and avatars. Should individuals have the right to control their own digital likeness and how it is used? Who owns the data collected by mixed reality systems, and how is it being used and protected? These are important questions that we as a society need to grapple with as mixed reality becomes more prevalent.
Another potential drawback of mixed reality is the potential for addiction and escapism. As the technology becomes more immersive and realistic, there is a risk that individuals may become too immersed in virtual worlds and neglect their real-world responsibilities and relationships. It is important for individuals and society as a whole to use mixed reality technology responsibly and in moderation.
The ABBA Voyage concert is a fantastic example of the potential of mixed reality technology in entertainment, education, and beyond. The use of avatars and digital twins opens up new possibilities for creativity and innovation, and has the potential to transform the way we experience the world around us. But it is important to approach this technology with a critical eye and consider the potential drawbacks and ethical considerations that come with it. As we move forward into the mixed reality future, let’s use this technology to enhance our lives and enrich our experiences, while also being mindful of the impact it may have on our society and ourselves.
So, what do you think about mixed reality technology? Have you ever experienced a mixed reality system before? How do you see this technology being used in the future, and what potential drawbacks do you see?
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