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by Mick the Ram
Visitors have been enjoying Christmas thrills at a revolutionary zoo in Australia, where all the animals are… holograms.
After opening earlier this year the Hologram Zoo in Brisbane, the crowds have been flocking to one of Queensland’s top attractions.
The “zoo” features 50 lifelike displays from dinosaurs to gorillas, all crafted from lasers. The experience allows adults and children alike to leap out of the way of on-rushing elephants, stare into the eyes of gorillas, or even place there heads into the gaping mouths of hippos.
Its creator proudly declares it as the world’s most futuristic animal theme park, using technology that has never been used anywhere else.
It is essentially a show that uses a new “depth” technology which greatly increase the size of the animals and brings to life the moving images by a laser projector containing crystals, that let simple sunglasses worn by guests separate fields of light.
In addition the show comes with sensory technology, which allows visitors to smell the plant life, and key to it all is a device that knows where everyone in the room is at any one time, creating a tailored virtual experience.
Chief Exec full of enthusiasm
The man behind it all calls it digital trickery, a way of hoodwinking the brain into seeing something that isn’t really there. Bruce Dell, the Chief Executive of Axiom Holographics and the creator of Hologram Zoo said: “The animals come into the room, they walk through the tunnel and you pat them just like in the movies.”
He added with boundless enthusiasm: “You are seeing an animal made of light in front of you and you will go and reach out your hand and pat a lion, or something.” He especially referenced a 30-metre whale that he said always seems to silence the audience, as they appear to stare in awe and reverence at such a magnificent creature.
Continuing, he remarked: “You are projecting an object in the air that appears to be real because as you walk around it you are seeing it from all sorts of different angles. So, you use laser light and we project these objects into the air.”
Massive hit with kids
Fundamentally, the Hologram zoo is a family entertainment centre, which has all the hallmarks of a normal zoo with an aquarium alongside it, but in this case the animals are just images projected through laser light.
It has become a huge hit with children with animals of all descriptions coming of the walls, appearing around corners and flying overhead.
Around the Continents
To add to the realism, there are fenced in areas where the animals act like living creatures and project upwards from the ground. In another part there is the sky roof, where people shrink down so that the animals are look gigantic as they walk over the glass above visitors heads.
Alternative shows are themed to specific continents, such as: Africa, Asia, and even the North Pole. There is also opportunity to step right back in time and be surrounded by the dinosaurs.
Revolution on its way
It is an education at the same time as being genuine entertainment and as its creator points out, it is certainly not Virtual Reality, as he predicts a hologram revolution. “It is something we see in science fiction and we should have had it by now, but they have always been so expensive and normally take tremendous amounts of computing power,” he commented.
Mr Dell went on to explain: “You will normally have 10 computers hooked together to do them, but because of our good understanding of how computer memory management works, we’ve been able to make algorithms that reduce holograms down to just one computer.”
Now he believes its revolution is about to strike. He reminded everyone about previous technology revolutions and the initial scepticism associated with them. In particular he spoke of the television, motor cars, mobile phones, even right the way back to the light bulb.
He predicts that in the not too distant future there will be things like floating hamburgers and pizzas at fast food restaurants, and virtual 3D gems to entice buyers at jewellery