Source: Imperial College LondonSource: Imperial College LondonIn what is being called an academic first, Imperial College London will debut hologram-like lecturers in some of its classrooms.

Initially, hologram-like images of the lecturers will be beamed into events held at Imperial’s business school. However, officials at the school predict that their usage could eventually become more commonplace throughout the university.

“The alternative is to use video-conferencing software but we believe these holograms have a much greater sense of presence," Dr. David Lefevre, director of Imperial's Edtech Lab, said. "The lecturers have a high-definition monitor in front of them which is calibrated so they can point at people and look them in the eye. They can really interact."

Though not exactly holograms, the technology developed by Canadian company Arht Media is similar in that it can “beam” images of guests located in entirely different countries into the classroom.

“This is simpler — you project upon a glass screen, and a backdrop behind it uses software to give it an illusion of depth,” said Dr. Lefevre.

To “beam” their image into the classroom, lecturers are filmed against a backdrop, lit from both sides in a “capture studio.”

The benefits of this technology, according to Dr. Lefever, include being able to play host to talent located far away and at a fraction of the cost of flying guest lecturers in or paying the price tag attached to other hologram-like technology.

"It runs at the low thousands each time, so for the first time universities can afford it," said Dr. Lefevre. "So long as the technology works the way we believe it will, I can see this becoming fairly mainstream."

To contact the author of this article, email