February 5, 2013

From Holocaust To Holograms

My father told me last week how my mom had awoken in the middle of night full of fearful, vivid memories of the Holocaust. 

In particular, she remembers when she was just a six year-old little girl, walking down the street in Germany, and suddenly the Nazi S.S. came up behind them and dragged her father off to the concentration camp, Buchenwald--leaving her alone, afraid, and crying on the street. And so started their personal tale of oppression, survival, and escape. 

Unfortunately, with an aging generation of Holocaust survivors--soon there won't be anyone to tell the stories of persecution and genocide for others to learn from.

In light of this, as you can imagine, I was very pleased to see the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and the USC Shoah Foundation collaborating on a project called "New Dimensions In Testimony" to use technology to maintain the enduring lessons of the Holocaust into the future.

The project involves developing holograms of Holocaust survivors giving testimony about what happened to them and their families during this awful period of discrimination, oppression, torture, and mass murder.

ICT is using a technology called Light Stage that uses multiple high-fidelity cameras and lighting from more than 150 directions to capture 3-D holograms. 

There are some interesting videos about Light Stage (which has been used for many familiar movies from Superman to Spiderman, Avatar, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) at their Stage 5 and Stage 6 facilities. 

To make the holograms into a full exhibit, the survivors are interviewed and their testimony is combined with natural language processing, so people can come and learn in a conversational manner with the Holocaust survivor holograms. 

Mashable reports that these holograms may be used at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. where visitors will talk "face-to-face" with the survivors about their personal experiences--and we will be fortunate to hear it directly from them. ;-)

(Photo from USC ICT New Dimensions In Technology)


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