Former schoolmates Sarah Oubridge and Louise Massey speak every day, tell each other absolutely everything and have provided a huge amount of emotional support to each other through the Coronavirus pandemic. But with Sarah living in London and Louise in Edinburgh, they haven’t been able to spend time together in person since October. While they would usually mark birthdays together, they have both turned 50 in lockdown and have not managed to celebrate ‘together’ until now.

And they did it without leaving their home cities – through super high-tech hologram technology.

Virgin Media used 3D hologram technology, powered by its gigabit network, to connect those separated by the pandemic in London and Edinburgh.

They created the ‘Two Hearts Pizzeria’, located at opposite ends of the UK – with half of the futuristic pizzeria located on the Southbank, London and the other on Castle Street, Edinburgh.

Sarah and Louise were so taken with the technology, they felt as if they could get up from their tables and give each other a hug – despite being hundreds of miles apart.

Sarah and Louise were so taken with the technology, they felt as if they could get up from their tables and give each other a hug – despite being hundreds of miles apart.

Sarah said: “Louise and I have known each other since school in the 1980s but then ended up at Cambridge Polytechnic and it was there that we became proper pals – always having a laugh.

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 “Our chats over lockdown have been different, we’ve been each other’s cheerleaders as we’ve both had some tricky moments over the last year.

“We would have our daily catch up as we took our dogs for their morning walks.

“We always have such a laugh when we meet up, and to be able to eat pizza and toast with each other virtually was fab! I really felt her presence. It was magical!”

Best friends Kevin Clubb, aged 41, from London, and Jock Findlay, 45 from Edinburgh, were also emotionally reunited via real-time, life-sized hologram projections after supporting each other’s mental health during the pandemic.

The country-spanning tech pop-up was created after research found Brits missed out on an estimated 15 billion moments together during the pandemic.

Restrictions put a stop to 2.5 billion hugs, 2.2 billion cuppa catch-ups and 1.7 billion nights out across the nation.

Of the 2,000 adults polled, four in 10 said the past year has been the loneliest they’ve ever experienced.

And 45 percent of the population have felt isolated and craving connections with their nearest and dearest.

More than one in three (37 percent) even said the past year has been one of the hardest of their lives and that they could have benefitted from in-person support more than ever.

To help get them through lockdown, 30 percent took to speaking to their pets, and nearly one in five even admitted to speaking to plants.

Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media, added: “While nothing can beat being together in real life, thanks to the holographic technology demonstrated at the Two Hearts Pizzeria and our gigabit network, we were able to offer the next best thing.”

The Two Hearts Pizzeria connected more than 30 loved ones over the course of two days, reuniting separated pairings in a digital dining experience like no other.

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