Holograms started out as science fiction and then became a very expensive reality, requiring costly projectors and virtual smoke and mirrors. As technology has improved, holograms have become cheaper to produce and more lifelike.
"It's as realistic as you can get without it being you," Carl Minardo, the president of AIM Holographics in West Palm Beach, Florida, told reporter Kathleen Walter of CBS affiliate WPEC. "Other than you coming up and being here, this is the closest it's going to be in three dimension."
Just like the hologram projections of deceased entertainers like Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur that have appeared on stages in recent years, Minardo believes consumers will jump at the chance to send their 3D images into the future.
The holograms Mindardo's company creates use a projection screen called a holo-cue that produces the life-size 3D images. He says the technology could be used for product demonstrations and other business messages, but he sees the biggest market in customers recording messages to be projected at their own funerals.
"It gives you an opportunity to talk to the people who are important in your life and, really, let them know how much they meant to you," he said.
Hologram technology is poised to grow in the next few years. Light-field displays, which can support 3D and holographic images, are in development for smartphones and computer products. Medical devices are also using hologram technology. Apple has patented interactive holograms and Microsoft's HoloLens goggles blend augmented reality and virtual reality by making holograms that mesh with the space around you.