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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon Holographic telepresence equipment such as the gear used by Haas to communicate with Dr. Juruna isn't currently available. It's not really on the drawing boards, either. Also lacking is the faster-than-light telecommunications gear which would be necessary to allow Haas and Juruna to talk to one another without annoying lightspeed lag.

The high-bandwidth FTL communications link isn't looking too likely under the laws of physics as currently understood. The holographic telepresence setup, however, is almost technologically feasible - if not currently buildable for less than an arm and a leg. The network-ready video cameras exist (although they're not holographic); the body-sensing gear to know where the user is looking exists; and there are even a number of different ideas floating around for generating images in empty air. But no one has surmounted the technological challenges inherent in putting them all together in a package which the discerning mad scientist can afford on a budget.

(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs One would hope this budding relationship would have a calming effect on Haas's, you know, madness, but Dr. Juruna is exhibiting classic enabling behavior. That's why relationships between mad scientists tend to turn out badly, not so much for them as for everyone else within about a thousand-mile radius.

I remember seeing something like a "holographic telepresence apparatus" when I went to SIGGRAPH waaaaaaay back in 1993. I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time, when I happened upon a huge booth in the exhibit hall. There was a wall about ten feet high and ten feet wide covered in chroma-key material, and a giant rear-projection screen mounted ninety degrees from it, and a TV camera pointed at the chroma-key wall and about fifty grand worth of Silicon Graphics hardware between the camera and the screen. The SGI could isolate your image in front of the chroma-key wall, add 3D "objects", and render the result on the rear-projection screen so you could interact with them in real time.

Sony is now selling a similar gadget for about $45.