Holograms Preserve Holocaust Survivors' Stories
Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter (left) sits inside all of the equipment needed to film him for a 3D hologram for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
CREDIT: Michele Zousmer
As soon as next year, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., could feature holograms of elderly Holocaust survivors that answer questions from visitors. The museum is working with a research team to create the holograms, which will be projected into the air so that people will be able to approach them and view them from all angles, the Associated Press reported.
The Associated Press described the hologram of one man, Pinchas Gutter, displayed during a recent early demonstration in California. Gutter had been a child in Poland during the Holocaust:
The elderly, balding man wasn't really there as he recounted the horror of the Holocaust to an audience gathered in an auditorium at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
It was the 80-year-old survivor's digital doppelganger, dressed in a white shirt, dark pants and matching vest, that was doing the talking as it gazed intently at its audience, sometimes tapping its feet as it paused to consider a question.
When the holograms are ready for the museum, each one will be accompanied by a voice-recognition program that researchers, led by the University of Southern California, are developing. The program will recognize what museum-goers ask and provide answers, a bit like Siri does on the iPhone, except that all the answers must come from the person the hologram represents.
To create all the footage and data for his hologram, Gutter answered about 500 questions from researchers over five days while being filmed under hot studio lights. For Holocaust survivors, whose estimated average age is 79, this may be taxing work. So far, however, no one has declined to work with the project, the Associated Press reported.
The technology team wants to preserve Holocaust survivors' memories and experiences for future generations, hopefully long after the survivors are gone, a statement from USC says.
The holograms may be ready as soon as 2014, but will certainly be done within five years, project leaders told the Associated Press.