How Cisco Turned Stephen Hawking Into A Hologram

How Cisco Turned Stephen Hawking Into A Hologram

The Sydney Opera House hosted two sessions of An Evening With Stephen Hawking over the weekend, with the world famous physicist appearing live as a hologram on stage. But what technology was needed to make that happen? This video explains some of the details.

Cisco engineer Michael Thomma walks through the gear that was used and the bandwidth requirements to make Hawking appear — including how to ensure the signal remained constant if there was an outage. Here’s the end result:


  • Quite frustratingly, the most technically challenging part of this (and the thing which the video claims to be about), namely capturing and projecting a hologram, is given about half a sentence at the end of the video. “Digital Video Enterprises… takes the video and uses their technology to project images on stage in 3D.”

    The bulk of it is about integrating the Cisco gear with third-party equipment and proper use of bandwidth and codecs. I was interested to hear about the h.265 codec (same video quality for half the bandwidth, supposedly) but apparently it wasn’t actually used in this case.

    Frustratingly, but predictably, it’s more of a sales talk than an explanation. I actually understood what he was saying, but to the average CEO I suspect it would come through as a collection of technobabble.

    I’m sort of surprised it isn’t tagged as sponsored content.

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