What Is a Virtual Hologram?

Laura M. Sands

A virtual hologram is a distinct type of three-dimensional (3D) light imaging where the actual image being recreated looks as though it is on the other side of the actual hologram. These three-dimensional images are created by light that is used to fill holograms on film. A virtual hologram is used as a master to create a real hologram, also known as a real image hologram, which is best described as a hologram where an image appears to be in the front of a hologram. A real hologram is the finished image that is used to represent the item or the person that was originally photographed.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

When peering through a clear window, objects on the other side of that window can be easily seen. A virtual hologram can be described in this same way. Objects that will eventually appear in a real image hologram appear to be on the other side just as if looking at them through transparent glass.

Holograms are often used for entertainment purposes, such as to create a holographic image of a person at a fair, an amusement park or a similar entertainment venue. Holograms like these are attractions at haunted house events, tech museums, trade shows and holiday parties. A virtual hologram may also be used in the process of creating a hologram for more practical purposes, however. Examples of other uses for holography include teaching and scientific research.

Researchers may use a virtual hologram to create a real image hologram in order to more closely study microscopic organisms or to even study the human brain and other internal body parts. Though not real, such imaging can very closely simulate the actual physical subject that researchers have targeted for study. Different from projected images that appear on a screen, 3D imaging represented as a hologram allows researchers to scrutinize subjects in much the same way as they would if the actual physical object or being were directly in front of them.

Used to create a real hologram, a virtual hologram can be thought of as a hologram that is still in the film stage. Similar to photographic film that has yet to be developed, a virtual hologram is a necessary part of the process in creating a real hologram. In real-time, light waves are constantly and rapidly moving. A hologram, however, is a three-dimensional image of light waves that are standing still. It is this imaging that is captured to create a virtual hologram.

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