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Holocaust Survivor Stories Live On In Holograms

A hologram of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter interacts with onlookers during a demonstration of the New Dimensions in Technology project. (USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

A hologram of Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter interacts with onlookers during a demonstration of the New Dimensions in Technology project. (USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

For nearly 70 years, 80-year-old Pinchas Gutter of Toronto has been telling the story of how he survived the Nazi labor camps in his native Poland.

He carries with him the memory of watching his parents and twin 10-year-old sister pulled away from him at a concentration camp, where they were killed.

Pinchas Gutter answers questions about his life on an ICT light stage surrounded by high-speed cameras and LED lights. (Paul Debevec/USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

Pinchas Gutter answers questions about his life on an ICT light stage surrounded by high-speed cameras and LED lights (click to enlarge). (Paul Debevec/USC Institute for Creative Technologies)

Now his story will live on long after he’s gone, in the form of a hologram.

The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation is teaming up with the university’s Institute for Creative Technologies to develop interactive holograms of Gutter and other Holocaust survivors.

Not only will the projection appear lifelike, it will also respond to questions.

A prototype of the hologram has already been built by filming Gutter for 12 hours and asking him about 100 different questions.

The technology is expected to be up and running within the next year, and will be installed in select museums around the world.

The project comes at a time when an estimated six to 10 percent of Holocaust survivors die annually, according to San Francisco’s Tauber Holocaust Library and Education Program.

Their data shows that 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain worldwide, with about 120,000 of those living in the United States. Their average age is estimated to be 79.

Simulated holographic video of Pinchas Gutter speaking to students:

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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