Projected success for holographic telepresence

Paul Raven @ 08-11-2010

The Guardian strikes back with a another sci-fi pop-culture reference in a new-tech article; this time the holographic projections from Star Wars: A New Hope get the nod as the “just like that” examplar of new research from the University of Arizona:

Until now, scientists have been able to create holograms that display static 3D images, but creating video has not been easy. Two years ago, Peyghambarian’s team demonstrated a device that was able to refresh a holographic image once every few minutes – it took around three minutes to produce a single-colour image, followed by a minute to erase that image before a new one could be written into its place.

In his latest project, Peyghambarian’s team reduced that image refresh time to two seconds. They also showed it was possible to use full colour and demonstrated parallax, whereby people looking at the image from different angles will see different views of the image, just as if they were looking at the original object.

Note, however, this is not a true 3D hologram:

Whereas the image of Princess Leia in Star Wars is projected in three-dimensional space, the new technology uses a 2D screen to create the illusion of 3D. At the heart of Peyghambarian’s system is his team’s invention of a new type of plastic known as a photorefractive polymer. The material, which is used to make the screen, allows the researchers to record and erase images quickly.

Naturally enough, the predicted market for this technology is telepresence for business meetings… which is the very same market that was meant to have made videophones ubiquitous by now. Given the amount of hardware and expense involved in this holographic telepresence set-up, I figure videotelephonics and/or metaverse meetings will get taken up much more quickly, if at all.

Still kinda cool, though.

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