Holographic Telecommuting to Become Reality Thanks to U. of Arizona

University of Arizona researchers have devised a holographic display that can show 3D videos in real time. Previously, 3D holographs were static images, but the research at the U. of Arizona can “project a color 3D image onto a sheet of special plastic using a fast-flashing laser. The image can be updated once every two seconds, fast enough to give a sense of movement,” according to Wired. The best part is that the video and images can be sent over the Internet in less than a second, giving a feeling of “holographic telepresence.” Scenes like the classic Princess Leia imagery from Star Wars where she sends an SOS message to Obi-Wan Kenobi and the audience sees a wraparound camera angle that spans her back to her face could now become a reality thanks to the holographic 3D video tech. Click on to see the video of holographic 3D in action.

Unlike traditional 3D technologies that we’re seeing today in movies, such as Avatar, holographic cameras use more cameras, giving a more complete angle of what’s happening. 3D technologies today give two perspectives–one for each eye–where as holographic 3D can give up to 16 perspectives with 16 different camera angles.

To film a holographic object in 3D, researchers set up 16 cameras in a semi-circle around the subject. Then, “researchers trained the laser onto a newly developed plastic called a photoreactive polymer, which is coated with a material that converts light into electrical charges that create and store the image. The charges move around the plastic in such a way that when light bounces off the material, it reaches your eyes as if it had bounced off the toy plane or the researcher’s head.”

This new material allows researchers to re-draw the image every two seconds. Two years ago, the image could only be re-drawn every 4 minutes. In another two years, researchers hope to have real-time video that refreshes 30 times a second, or essentially 30 frames per second.

Applications of this technology span from telecommuting to having doctors and specialists perform and participate in surgeries and medical procedures remotely. Researchers are estimating that with more cameras and more development, this technology can potentially reach living rooms in about a decade.

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