The circuses have a controversial history due to circus animals being one of the most abused and mistreated animals in the world. Many circuses have had to shut down their operations in these last decades after rising voices of the animal activists brought the reality of circus life for animals into the spotlight.
Now, as advanced technologies enter every aspect of our lives, the future of circuses might look very different, especially when thought together with virtual reality technologies.
Circus Roncalli, a Germany-based circus troupe, became the first in the world to replace circus animals with holograms when it announced the change in 2019, becoming the pioneer of the futuristic hologram approach.
The Circus, which has been touring since 1976, previously had animals such as elephants and horses perform tricks and stunts for the entertainment of the audience. In a bid to keep the circus tradition alive without forcing live animals to entertain the crowds, the new Circus, led by Chief Digital Officer of the Roncalli Group Markus Strobl, joined forces with Optoma, to install 11 laser projectors throughout the entire 105-foot-wide (32 meters), 16-foot-deep (5 meters) arena.
The high-tech projectors are circularly arranged around the ring and produce life-sized, partly oversized animal holograms on a specially developed, transparent, and circular projection surface.
Thanks to the 360° 3D stunning holographic images of the animals such as horses, elephants, and fish, the Circus has not had live animals in its ring for years. People have responded positively to the change, too.
Most recently, the Circus was selected the finalist at the German Sustainability Award 2021, and it seems to be setting a new standard in the industry. The company is striving to save resources by reducing its transport costs and resource consumption, improving its environmental footprint.
Circus Roncalli's example shows that the lack of animals at a circus doesn't have to stop the show, and with some help from technology, the show can and will go on. This example is only one of the ways virtual reality can change the world.