Hologram pizzeria brings virtual happy hour to a new level

Diners were able to feel like they were eating with loved ones 400 miles away.

Virgin Media’s Two Hearts Pizzeria, the world’s first hologram dining experience, let people in the U.K. feel like they were sharing a meal with loved ones who were actually 400 miles away.

Socially distanced out: For many people, social distancing has been the hardest part of the pandemic, and the challenge isn’t likely to end in the immediate future.

Even with vaccines, we may be months away from resuming “normal” life, meaning more video chats and phone calls instead of in-person hangouts.

For the (holo)gram: Holograms are two-dimensional images or videos that are recorded and displayed in a way that makes them appear three-dimensional. This depth gives the recordings a stronger sense of realism.

Virgin Media decided to use holograms to help people who are social distancing feel closer to their loved ones — without actually putting them in the same room.

The pizza plan: To create the hologram dining experience, Virgin Media set up two pizza restaurants, one in London and the other in Edinburgh. People in one city could then enjoy a meal in real-time with their loved ones in the other city — or, life-sized holograms of their loved ones, at least.

Virgin Media hasn’t said much about the specific technology involved, only that the set-up included an array of cameras and lights and was made possible by its ultra-fast gigabit network.

Special occasion: The hologram dining experience was just a two-day event and only about 30 people in the U.K. were chosen to participate in it.

While it likely helped ease their longing to see loved ones, the vast majority of people will have to make due with phone calls and video chats until the pandemic finally ends.

Zoom of the future? This use of holograms to connect people during the pandemic might have been a rare treat for just a select few people, but the tech is getting more advanced, and companies are working to incorporate it into personal devices.

So, while hologram dining might not be on the menu for most people right now, it could help us feel closer to far away loved ones in the not-so-distant future.

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