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Displays Science Technology

Real-Time Holograms Beam Closer To Reality 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the holodeck-here-I-come dept.
sciencehabit writes "It's not quite the flickering blue projection of Princess Leia begging, 'Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!' from the classic sci-fi movie Star Wars, but holographic projection has just beamed a bit closer to reality. Researchers in Arizona have devised a novel plastic film that can be used to generate holographic 3D images sent electronically from one location to another. The technology opens the door for everything from holographic surgery to movies that literally surround the viewer."
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Real-Time Holograms Beam Closer To Reality

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  • ...to movies that literally surround the viewer.

    Why on earth would I want that? I have a hard enough time taking everything in with 3D movies!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The goal with that wouldn't be for you to take it all in, the focus would still be at singular points, or on an overall scene. The goal would be the feeling of complete immersion in the movie, which would be *amazing*.

    • by Flea of Pain (1577213) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:30PM (#34116644)

      Porn. That is all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CCarrot (1562079)

      Why on earth would I want that? I have a hard enough time taking everything in with 3D movies!

      just think of the gaming possibilities...talk about a first person shooter!

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297)
        I could totally get in on the gaming aspect, but it just seems over the top for movies.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CCarrot (1562079)

          True that. Plus, I'd imagine watching this would provide even more headaches/accessibility problems than dear old 3D does now...so it'll probably be relegated to a niche market.

          That being said, way back when not many people expected this whole 'home computing' thing to take off, either...so who knows? If only my time machine weren't on the fritz again...and me fresh out of flux capacitors, too!

      • by Stregano (1285764)
        I am not going to lie, getting teabagged by teenagers would be a little gros when I got dominated in Halo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      Think of Avatar, but as a video game (you don't watch the protagonist, you are the protagonist). That's where games are heading and will overtake movies. The holodeck.

      • by spazdor (902907)

        Passive entertainment isn't going to be entirely supplanted by active entertainment. Sure, as it gets more sophisticated it will become more compelling to more people, but the human desire to sit down and let someone else do all the work for your enjoyment is not going away.

        (come on make a double entendre I want you to)

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:37PM (#34116734) Homepage Journal

      Holograms aren't about walking around the image (although they can be), they're about true 3D; 3D that uses all the visual cues for depth rather than just one (or 2D plus one more cue).

      Today's 3D movies aren't really 3D, they're stereoscopes. Your right eye sees a slightly different image than your left eye, and your brain combines them.

      With a hologram, if your eye focuses on something close in the image, things farther away blur, and if your eye focuses on something farther away the foreground blurs. With stereoscopy, the camera does all the focusing, which is why some people get eyestrain with it -- the parallax tells the brain an object is s certain distance away, while its focusing tells the brain it's a different distance.

      But as I said, TFA wasn't clear whether or not it's a true hologram, as it mentioned several cameras arrayed aroud the subject. With a hologram, you have one camera and two lasers.

      I wish I could find a more technical FA about this, it looks fascinating.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        TFA mentions lasers, interference patterns, and a recording film. sounds like a hologram to me. the multiple-cameras and some number crunching are likely what is used to synthesize the interference pattern. transmitting an unmolested pair of beams from the source to the destination for reconstruction sounds technically infeasible considering the beams would not be point-like.

      • by DubC (1934338)
        It is not a "real" hologram because there is not a "real" object on the table. It is a holographic stereogram, like a magic eye, but with many perspectives of the object encoded rather than just the two. The different pixels of the display are what is transmitted, and then the lasers used to write the material. Look up integral imaging, or there a number of good books on these principles, like "Holographic Imaging" by Benton.
    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      3D movies give me a bloody headache. I'll pass.

  • for me to not buy a 3D TV. saving up for basement holodeck...
  • Bad news (Score:4, Funny)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:25PM (#34116554) Homepage

    He's Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer
    Without him life would be much dimmer
    He's handsome, brave, and no one's slimmer
    He will never use a Zimmer.

    (Let's just say that's one smeghead I never want to see again!)

  • Surgery? (Score:3, Funny)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:26PM (#34116576) Journal

    How's a hologram going to take my appendix out?

    Oh... [startrek.com]

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      We're not quite ready for JohnnyCab [wikipedia.org] to do surgery yet... Oh wait, we are. [wikipedia.org] We just don't have solid holograms yet.

    • by Machtyn (759119)
      My question is, "Why this push to do remote surgery?" I can see why in specialized cases, but wouldn't the expense to fly the patient or doctor and staff/equipment to an appropriate place be cheaper at this point? Would the cost differences ever merge to the point that holographic remote surgery is feasible?
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Seriously, remote, 'turn off the coffee pot', or remote 'put away the dishes' would seem more useful. I would say remote 'mow the lawn' or remote 'vacuum the floor', but those have already been taken care of with 'automatic'.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        My question is, "Why this push to do remote surgery?" I can see why in specialized cases, but wouldn't the expense to fly the patient or doctor and staff/equipment to an appropriate place be cheaper at this point? Would the cost differences ever merge to the point that holographic remote surgery is feasible?

        That's a good question on per-procedure costs.

        But there are tons of other cost savings and benefits... like the cost of having a dozen(s) different specialist surgeons at every hospital. Access to bett

        • by Tordre (1447083)

          So not only are we outsourcing our tech support to India we are also going to outsource our health care. luckily if the robot surgeon breaks down tech support will be in the same call center.

          In all seriousness there is also a legal issue here, where must a surgeon be licensed to do surgery to if the robot is in one country and the surgeon is in the other, health care practices are different between countries.

      • by DZign (200479)

        Military.

        You've got a soldier with a bullet somewhere in the middle of a desert.. it's easier and faster to put him somewhere in a closed container somewhere at the military base, where he can be operated fast.. no need to fly a medical team to a dangerous area, and no need to fly a wounded soldier who might not survive the flight without being operated first.

        The doctor himself can be in the usa, and opeate dozens of patients a day located over the whole world..

        You just need the 'remote box' at a military b

    • Robots first: http://www.davincisurgery.com/ [davincisurgery.com]

      Then holograms.

    • Husband away on business, on phone to wife at home, "How was that for you Babe?" Wife, "didn't feel a thing but heard the woman in room next to me moaning rather a lot." Husband, "Shit...I'm gonna sue those fucking Hollogramaticsex bastards!

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:28PM (#34116594)

    I wonder if this technology can help further holographic storage. Holographic storage has been hovering at the edges for a while now, and maybe this might be the impetus that drives this mainstream.

    Of course, it wouldn't be memristor fast, nor compete with SSDS, but as a medium to replace tapes or WORM optical storage for low speed, high capacity, it would be ideal, assuming the archival life of bits stored in 3D is up to par.

    • What? Don't you want to see how many platters we can cram into a 3.5" drive?
      • by mlts (1038732) *

        If we hit a wall with storage, that is likely what will happen. We might even see full height 5.25" drives return with a smart controller that moves data around depending on how it is accessed, or multiple heads to further balance the load (one head primarly accessing inner tracks the other outer tracks to help reduce average seek time), as well as some flash storage for very frequent data use that is too big for a DRAM cache.

  • Porn? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by santax (1541065)
    Is it available yet?
  • Every 2 seconds? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ambvai (1106941)

    So this thing updates every 2 seconds [with a 100x one in the works]... compared to typical games running at 30-60 times per second? But another interesting question-- exclusive of processing power, is the refresh rate limited by size, or can it scale up pretty much indefinitely?...and CAN it be large? The image makes it look like it's difficult to maintain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      So this thing updates every 2 seconds [with a 100x one in the works]

      Holy crap how did you misread that so bad? It's every 2 seconds now, which is more than 100 times quicker than it was two years ago. That's a huge improvement in a short period of time, and it is only going to get better. They need another order of magnitude (10 times) improvement to get it to a reasonable frame-rate of 30fps. Expect that in another year or so.

      Also note that this is live video at 0.5fps. They could probably get that order of magnitude improvement if they weren't shooting live.

      • by DubC (1934338)
        The laser runs at 50Hz, and since there are about 100 "pixels" to fill the 4in wide material, the refresh rate for the whole image is about 0.5fps. So the speed is limited by the laser and would increase with material size. Certainly gaming and videos require at least 30 fps, but many applications do not, like visualization of medical images.
    • by EkriirkE (1075937)

      Watching the video, the speed looks to be limited by horizontal resolution/motor feeding the recording film under the laser

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by monopole (44023)

      Speaking w/ 30+ years of experience in holography, this is going to be really miserable to make practical. The computation involved is hideous for realistic scenes and the bandwidth is insane. If you want to get real time and something better than sick figures you have to heavily constrain the wavefront reconstruction.

      A true hologram reconstructs the entire wavefront emanating from a scene, which gives it it's unique nature. Cut back the bandwidth and the realism or the viewing angle go to hell.

  • The technology opens the door for everything from holographic surgery to movies that literally surround the viewer."

    Say it with me everyone! HOLODECK!

    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      that would require some type of force field technology or else you'd just walk right through. If they got that out of the way, most holodecks would need a good cleaning crew, preferably robotic.
  • Refresh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:34PM (#34116686) Journal

    Sort of interesting, but the video doesn't really show the image being updated - it just goes from a blank bit of plastic to one with the hologram etched inside. The article also doesn't really make it clear if the same bit of plastic can be re-used fro the next image, which it seems would be a requirement to show video; if that's the case, why don't they show the image being changed? It's great that they can make the image in 2.15 seconds, but how long does it take to erase and write the next one?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nature article [nature.com](reg required)
      Here we use a holographic stereographic technique and a photorefractive polymer material as the recording medium to demonstrate a holographic display that can refresh images every two seconds. A 50Hz nanosecond pulsed laser is used to write the holographic pixels. Multicoloured holographic 3D images are produced by using angular multiplexing, and the full parallax display employs spatial multiplexing. 3D telepresence is demonstrated by taking multiple images from one location and

    • Re:Refresh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DubC (1934338) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:35PM (#34117990)
      The same bit of plastic can be re-used for every image, and there are more videos that show the material being re-used. Check out the BBC coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11685582 [bbc.co.uk]
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's going to be a race between real-world porn and 3D-rendered cartoons (hentai). I'd bet on the hentai because rendering puts aside all the technical problems of actually shooting all dimensions at once in real-time, but also because the Japanese already have excellent 3D hentai rendering software.

  • CNN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:39PM (#34116740) Homepage

    So what? They've had this on CNN for at least 2 years now.

    And man, it's made their news reporting so much better.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:41PM (#34116766) Homepage

    We see things because light either comes from, through or bounces off of the things we see. The problem with our concept of projected holograms is that we need to get the light to do something special in the air. Either we cause light to be generated in the air or somehow cause a reaction with particles in the air at specified points. Projecting onto mist and smoke in the air has been successful. We know how to bounce things off of solid objects, even when those solid objects are in the form of tiny particles.

    So just as most people are WAY off in thinking that we can make lightsabers and blasters with laser beams, most are way off in thinking we can project light beams to create a hologram.

    It may never be possible until we start working out how we can teleport antimatter streams into patterns into 3D spaces occupied by existing matter. A matter+antimatter reaction in tiny amounts in air just might create the points of light needed to create holographic images in the air. Even that would not be sustainable for a video stream, I fear, as all sorts of things are likely to go awry while antimatter reacts with the matter particles in the air.

    Projecting light onto a plastic film is a LONG way from creating a hologram in the air and it is probably moving in the wrong direction even to try.

    • by Interoperable (1651953) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @03:57PM (#34116924)

      A matter-antimatter reaction in air might work if your eyes see gamma rays. Mine only see this lame portion of the spectrum called visible radiation.

      I also think it's a bit funny that you feel that an anti-matter teleporter is a more tractable problem than a free-space hologram. Here's an idea: use high-intensity infra-red beams to heat tiny pockets of air and then use the index-of-refraction gradient to deflect (or better yet, scatter) visible light. Maybe that won't work, but my point is that there just might be hologram technologies that are easier to implement than a teleporter.

      • by T Murphy (1054674)
        I don't know, I'd rather my holographic projector come with a free teleporter than a bunch of hot pockets (however tasty).
      • by dkf (304284)

        A matter-antimatter reaction in air might work if your eyes see gamma rays. Mine only see this lame portion of the spectrum called visible radiation.

        That's because you're using antimatter that is too massive. You need to use lightweight AM so that the amount of energy liberated puts the electromagnetic emission in the visible range. (Finding a suitable collection of fundamental particles with masses that convert to visible light photons is left as an exercise for the reader.)

        You also have the problem that the direction of the photons produced is totally random, so it would be like a monochromatic light hovering in space and not a hologram.

    • by Machtyn (759119) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:02PM (#34116964) Homepage Journal
      I never thought I'd see a Resonance Cascade, let alone create one...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CCarrot (1562079)

      Projecting light onto a plastic film is a LONG way from creating a hologram in the air and it is probably moving in the wrong direction even to try.

      I have to disagree with you there. True, this is not the way to produce a 'true' three-dimensional light construct, at least not the way you or I imagine it, but anything that helps suspend disbelief and brings the environment closer to the user is worth pursuing.

      Just because this needs a solid surface to work from doesn't mean it is without worth. Line a room with these films and *poof*, instant 'teleportation' to wherever you feel like going. Can you imagine the benefits to the mobility challenged? A

    • by blincoln (592401)

      So just as most people are WAY off in thinking that we can make lightsabers and blasters with laser beams, most are way off in thinking we can project light beams to create a hologram.

      What you describe has already been done. I'm not going to dig up the MIT Media Lab holography link again, because I've posted it 4 or 5 times in response to similar claims from previous holography discussions here. I don't know why people keep claiming it's a physical impossibility. It's been done, in colour even.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course you can make a laser beam hologram... with an IR laser split into a minimum of two beams more for varying degrees of shades (color values) then having it reflected in a symmetrical matrix with adjustable lenses.. I actually just made that up and googled it since it seemed so obvious. And yeah, someone has already done just that [physorg.com].

      And.... this could actually make me a millionaire, extending on that it would be a piece of cake making a lightsaber (at least the visual effect of one).

    • by yariv (1107831)
      What are you talking about? We can already make holograms! We see because light hits our eyes, and if we can generate it to behave as if it's coming of some objects, we will see those objects. We can do that using the wave behavior of light. To make holographic movies, we need to be capable of adjusting phase of emitted light at any point, not only amplitude (and computational power, I'm not sure how complex generating the image will be). There is no need for teleportation of any kind.
  • in the Nature abstract, but there certainly is on their group's website! [arizona.edu]

    Also, it's rad that they mentioned Star Wars in a Nature article; although it would have been better if they'd actually referenced A New Hope.

  • Perhaps I am missing something, but this technology doesn't seem like a holograph at all. It seems like it's a dynamic hologram. While that is interesting, it still requires a custom display sheet upon which to project the image. So I would still have to carry around a square of material in order to view my electronic hologram message, or whatever. When I think holograph, I think about a three-dimensional figure of light being projected onto a table top. I don't think of a moving hologram. In other words, i
    • Re:Not a Holograph (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr2001 (90979) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:31PM (#34117268) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps I am missing something, but this technology doesn't seem like a holograph at all. It seems like it's a dynamic hologram.

      A holograph is a document written entirely in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears. [wikipedia.org]

      When I think holograph, I think about a three-dimensional figure of light being projected onto a table top.

      That's a special effect you see in movies. It's not real, and there's no real theory for how such a thing could even be made. Dismissing this real, working technology because it doesn't look like a Hollywood "hologram" is like dismissing a laser-powered rifle because it doesn't shoot a solid, brightly colored chunk of light that flies across the room like in Star Wars.

      (Sorry, I'm closely related to a pioneer in holography and worked in the field for several years, so I can be pedantic about it sometimes.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheSync (5291)

        That's a special effect you see in movies. It's not real, and there's no real theory for how such a thing could even be made.

        You might want to see the AIST free space plasma display [physorg.com], as a theory on how such a thing could be made...

    • This is a common misconception about holograms which has come about because of movie special effects.

      A real hologram can show the illusion of something floating in front of you, but only so long as your gaze is directed *at* the hologram. Thus, a hologram "picture" hanging on the wall can only show an object while you're looking at the picture, but direct your gaze to the wall left or right and you see the wall. You can see a little bit around the object, but you can't walk around and see behind it because

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:33PM (#34117274)
    Thank you summary, I was unaware of where that quote came from. It is only due to your diligence that I am now informed of that piece of movie trivia.
    • We wouldn't want someone to confuse Star Wars (the classic sci-fi movie) with Star Wars (the contemporary adult-midget porno flick). Of course, the famous quote from the latter is "Penetrate me O-B-its-Long Ushorty, you are my only poke." How the two could be confused I have no idea.
  • I'm not sure if these two forms of holograph are related, but I watched an interesting documentary about holographs recently.

    Doctor Laser [motherboard.tv]: Inside the Wondrous Lab of One of the World's Last Holographers.

    Learn some neat facts about this lost/dying art.

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