The folks at Technology Review have run up a top ten of futurismic display/interface combos, all on display at SIGGRAPH 2009, I particularly like the haptic holography from researchers at the University of Tokyo:
The virtual objects appear in mid-air thanks to an LCD and a concave mirror. The sensation of touching the objects is created using an ultrasound device positioned below the LCD and mirror.
It’ll be interesting to see whether people end up using more traditional haptic devices like gloves and goggles combinations, or choose something based on holography and sound waves.
Also note that Wii remotes are used as off-the-shelf sensors, the street, or academia, finds its own use for things.
The ability to touch and manipulate 3D images is key to the future of interactive entertainment, not to mention every other episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now two UC-Santa Barbara researchers say they’ve built a prototype room-sized 3D display using projectors, a user-tracking system, and two FogScreens, which produce 2D images using microscopic water droplets and ultrasound.
To achieve the 3D effect, the same image is rendered on two overlapping screens at different depths. Users’ head positions are tracked since the 2D images on each screen depend on the user’s viewing direction. The system computes the image alignment in real time, and users see a single, fused 3D image where the screens overlap.
But a room-sized DFD [depth-fused 3D] still presents technical challenges for researchers. For instance, the fog from two FogScreens can bleed through and disrupt each other, air conditioners and open doors can cause turbulence that interferes with the image quality, and alignment and tracking errors can occur because people view the 3D images with two separate eyes.
Possible future applications include virtual museums, surgery, and offices, not to mention virtual catch or Frisbee.
Dynamic hologram displays could be made into devices that help surgeons track progress during lengthy and complex brain surgeries, show airline or fighter pilots any hazards within their entire surrounding airspace, or give emergency response teams nearly real-time views of fast-changing flood situations or traffic problems, for example…and no one yet knows where the advertising and entertainment industries will go with possible applications…
The prototype display is only four inches by four inches and only comes in red, but larger displays in full colour are considered possible. The researchers are aiming for a one-foot-by-one-foot display next, then a three-foot-by-three-foot display. Eventually they hope to be able to display life-sized holographic images of humans that can be updated every few minutes.
The researchers point out that a great deal of data is lost when three-dimensional information, such as that collected by an MRI or CAT scan, is displayed in two dimensions on a flat computer monitor. As they say, “…when we develop larger, full-color 3-D holograms, every hospital in the world will want one.”
And two minutes after the first one is installed, hospital staff will be referring to the room it’s placed in as the “holodeck.”