Tholos - a window on the future of communication
By Mike Hanlon
June 4, 2004
Tholos is an ambitious project aiming to create landmark tourist attractions in the centre of capital cities around the world where the public will be able to meet and talk as if they were facing each other even though they may be thousands of miles apart. Tholos uses a huge cylindrical 360 degree screen which is three metres highand seven metres in diameter. The screen simultaneously transmits and receives very high definition moving images in real-time and hence people will be able to have eye-to-eye conversations with non-distorted life-sized images of their friends overseas. Directional microphones and speakers will enable the privacy of conversations.
The first Tholos structures will be in central London and near St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna (Austria), with short term plans for identical Tholos venues in the centre of Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Warsaw (Poland) and Copenhagen (Denmark), with further expansion to a total of 16 European cities by 2008. The developers also want to expand the project to the United States and Asia, with a view to having a global network running by 2011. The f irst Tholos project buildings are expected to be operational in London and Vienna later this year.
Being in such central locations and having a unique easily-identifiable structure, the Tholos structures are hoped to become instant landmarks and as the central city will become the panoramic background for all people communicating. That is, people standing in front of London's Tholos will see a 360 degree picture of the scene in Vienna by walking around the screen.
THOLOSand its location in each city is expected to become the multi-cultural and tourist meeting center since it will also be a presentation tool for art movies, cultural media, documentations and other events.
With these unique attributes, it is hoped that the Tholos project will become a high technology window to the world, with 'viral' international tourism promotional advantages for the hosts.
Each Tholos is expected to cost about AUD$3.5 million to build and install, though the obvious major overhead in each case will be the real estate.
Use of Tholos by the public will be free, with advertising expected to finance each installation once the structures are running - around 13% of the airtime is expected to allocated to advertising.