Who Needs 3-D TV? Holographic Images Get Closer

High-definition TV, even 3-D TV with glasses, is so yesterday. Now researchers have demonstrated a system that gets closer to holographic TV.

In a paper published in the current Nature magazine, researchers from the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences in Tucson and Nitto Denko Technical Corp. in Oceanside, Calif., have announced a major advance in creating holographic TV and videoconferencing. Their full-color holographic display can refresh every two seconds a near-360-degree image up to 17 inches wide, and the images have been sent via an Ethernet connection from a lab in California to one in Arizona.

Next Target: Video Speeds

The next research target is to create a system that can refresh the image 30 times a second or greater, as video does.

Nasser Peyghambarian, head of the research team, said holograms make better 3-D displays “because that is how we see our surroundings.” Unlike most 3-D TV systems, no glasses are required. Several glasses-free 3-D TV technologies have been demonstrated, but they often have limited angles of viewing, which holograms do not.

Viewers can see a holographic image from their position as if it were in real space. Looking at it from behind, viewers see the back, while those in front see the front.

The key technical obstacle to holographic TV is rewriting the image fast enough so motion can be seen. In 2008, the same researchers said they could generate a black-and-white hologram that could be refreshed every four minutes, so a two-second refresh of a color image is a major advance.

The researchers said upcoming versions of their system will lie flat on a table with the images floating above, not unlike the visualization of holographic technology in science-fiction movies.

To create the holographic image, multiple cameras shoot color images from multiple angles, and they are combined. A photorefractive polymer…

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