Holografica's 3-D, goggle-free display
June 10, 2008 Every other month we hear about a television that’s wider, sharper, or thinner than all the others. It’s likely that to impress consumers in the near future, television manufacturers are going to need to venture outside the box. And that’s what Holografika have done. Literally. The company’s HoloVizio technology provides multiple viewers with a three-dimensional display that naturally changes as people shift their perspective.
The technology is being researched by the 3.7 million EU-funded Coherent Project, which aims to provide a networked holographic audio-visual platform to support real-time collaborative 3D interaction between geographically distributed teams.
Giving two-dimensional images the illusion of depth has been largely based off the same principle since the 19th century. Stereoscopy involves confusing the brain by presenting it with two images that can be processed by the brain as binocular vision. Modern technology has refined the technique, resulting in advanced goggles and "Magic Eye" puzzles that can be seen as three-dimensional with the naked eye. However stereoscopy, no matter how advanced, has inherent drawbacks. It can cause eyestrain and headaches, and the goggles serve to restrict the potential number of viewers and create a cumbersome viewing experience.
The HoloVizio system is a new approach to three-dimensional displays that avoids the pitfalls of stereoscopy and has the potential to create a truly marvelous viewing experience. Instead of crafting a screen that tries to fool the brain with stereoscopic images, the HoloVizio system attempts to recreate the properties of a window – a two-dimensional surface that portrays shifts in perspective with changes in the light pattern. The system uses a light-emitting screen made of voxels, which emit light beams of different intensity and color in various directions. This means that as the viewer moves around the display, the perspective of the image shifts accordingly. The approach frees the system from goggles and head trackers, and creates the same holographic illusion of objects being situated behind or in front of the screen.
Tibor Balogh, CEO and founder of Holografika, says, “It uses a holographic screen. When beams inside the device strike the screen, each point of the holoscreen is able to emit light beams of a different colour and intensity in different directions.”
The Coherent project aims to create a 3D platform that facilitates large-scale collaboration between professionals in fields that are increasingly using sophisticated 3D modelling, including medicine, molecular science, and oil exploration. However, it is easy to imagine the technology being applied for entertainment purposes.
While it is hardly the Star Trek Holodeck, it is an undeniably impressive approach to three-dimensional viewing that has a bright future in a variety of fields. A video demonstrations of the technology can be found here.