You can see him. You can ask him questions. You can almost feel him in front of you just like any other lecture you attend. But if you go ahead and take a closer look at the lecturer, you will see only screens and lights.
This is not a virtual scene in a Hollywood movie—this was a real event, held by Chinese games developer NetDragon and Canadian human holograms creator ARHT in Hong Kong last Friday.
“We are proud to showcase HumaGrams for the first time in Hong Kong, and proud of how the partnership between NetDragon and ARHT is starting to bear fruit,” said Simon Leung, the Vice Chairman and Executive Director of NetDragon.
HumaGrams is the linchpin holographic technology owned by ARHT, which is used to realize a realistic effect. With this technology, a human hologram of American television and radio host Larry King was beamed to the screens of the Hong Kong event from Los Angeles. Seen from the audiences’ view, the hologram was three dimensional and lifelike, as if Larry King himself was on the stage.
What’s more, the real Larry King could also see the audiences at the event and communicate with them in real time from Los Angeles.
This may look a little different from what people would think of, speaking of augmented reality (AR): glasses, helmets and earphones. But this is what NetDragon has been doing– combining online education with AR.
NetDragon invested CAD 4.8 million (USD 3.7 million) in ARHT in April 2016. The two companies have established an online education joint venture which combines ARHT’s HumaGrams technology with NetDragon’s user basis. They aim to become the world’s largest learning community.
Besides ARHT, NetDragon has also acquired another AR technologies provider, Cherrypicks Alpha, in April 2016.
NetDragon was founded in the southeast Chinese city of Fuzhou in 1999. NetDragon has developed a number of online games well received by domestic and international users. According to NetDragon, its overseas registered users have reached 65 million.
NetDragon’s ambition in online education is global in scope. It established its China-focused education division Huayu Education in 2014, which landed USD 52.5 million from investors, including IDG, in 2015. NetDragon acquired London-listed interactive learning technologies provider Promethean World in 2015, which covers its international business.
The event last Friday was the first fruit of the cooperation between NetDragon and ARHT. They are working with production company tinePublic to develop more live learning events featuring global celebrities.
Learning events are only part of NetDragon’s business in online education, which includes social networks, cloud platforms, media tablets, and interactive classroom software, as well as educational content.
According to a report by the Chinese industry research institution AskCI in May 2016, the online education market volume in China reached RMB 119 billion in 2015. According to a report by research company iResearch in January 2016, the VR/AR market volume in China was RMB 1.5 billion in 2015.
It’s no wonder why NetDragon has set foot in these two industries.
(Top photo from sites.psu.edu)