The Force iS STrong in ThiS one

That fa­mous holo­gram of Princess Leia in is slowly turn­ing into re­al­ity.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

SCI­EN­TISTS say they have taken a big step to­ward dis­play­ing live video in three di­men­sions — a technology far be­yond 3D movies and more like the Star Wars scene where a ghostly Princess Leia im­age pleads, “Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

In that clas­sic movie, the au­di­ence sees her back be­fore a new cam­era per­spec­tive shows her face. Such a wrap­around view of a mov­ing im­age was just movie-trick fan­tasy in the 1977 film, but now?

“It is ac­tu­ally very, very close to re­al­ity. We have demon­strated the con­cept that it works. It’s no longer some­thing that is sci­ence fic­tion,” said Nasser Peygham­bar­ian of the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona.

Ac­tu­ally, the re­sults he and col­leagues re­ported in the lat­est is­sue of the jour­nal Na­ture look more like a slideshow than a video.

In ex­per­i­ments, the technology dis­played a new im­age only ev­ery two sec­onds.

That’s only about one-six­ti­eth as fast as the sys­tem would need to pro­duce true video.

In ad­di­tion, the im­age al­lowed only a 45° range of view­ing an­gles be­cause of how the ex­per­i­ments were done. The re­searchers are work­ing to­ward pro­vid­ing a full, 360° view.

In fact, Peygham­bar­ian fig­ures that his team could pro­duce a true 3D video screen that might reach liv­ing rooms in per­haps a decade. And you wouldn’t need those funny glasses to en­joy it.

Apart from the pos­si­bil­i­ties for en­ter­tain­ment, it might al­low doc­tors in mul­ti­ple places around the world to col­lab­o­rate on live surgery, he said.

If the screen were placed flat on a ta­ble, they could get a 360° view by walk­ing around, just as if the pa­tient were ly­ing there.

While the 3D im­age would not ac­tu­ally be pro­jected into the air, that’s how it would ap­pear to a per­son look­ing into the screen. Other pos­si­bil­i­ties, Peygham­bar­ian said, in­clud­ing eye-catch­ing ads at shop­ping malls and a tech­nique to en­able de­sign­ers of cars or air­planes to make changes more quickly.

Live 3D video could also help the mil­i­tary train troops, he said. We see ob­jects by per­ceiv­ing the light that bounces off them.

Peygham­bar­ian’s technology uses holo­grams, two-di­men­sional im­ages that re­con­struct the light that would have bounced off a phys­i­cal ob­ject, mak­ing it look 3D.

In con­trast, technology used for 3D movies like Avatar or the elec­tion-night “holo­gram” of a CNN re­porter in 2008 pro­duces im­ages that don’t show dif­fer­ent views from dif­fer­ent an­gles, as a gen­uine holo­gram or a real ob­ject does, Peygham­bar­ian said.

Many peo­ple have seen holo­grams of still im­ages.

The Ari­zona group is one of maybe half a dozen around the world that are try­ing to move that technology into 3D video, said V. Michael Bove Jr of the MIT Me­dia Lab.

Bove said sev­eral groups, in­clud­ing his own, have in fact pro­duced such videos, achiev­ing the magic rate of 30 frames a sec­ond. But those dis­plays are only about the size of a post­card or smaller, he said, and one big chal­lenge is how to make the dis­play big­ger.

The Ari­zona group uses a plas­tic plate that stores and dis­plays an im­age un­til an­other im­age is “writ­ten” elec­tron­i­cally on it. That ap­proach might some­day al­low for much big­ger im­ages, said Bove, who is col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Ari­zona re­searchers but did not par­tic­i­pate in the new study.

Peygham­bar­ian said he now gets an im­age ev­ery two sec­onds on a 4 x 4in de­vice. His team also has a 1sq ft plate but that takes longer to re­place im­ages.

He would like to scale up to plates about 6 or 8sq ft to show peo­ple at full size, so they could ap­pear at meet­ings with­out hav­ing to ac­tu­ally show up.

His work was spon­sored by the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion and the mil­i­tary.

Bove com­pared the state of holo­graphic video re­search to that of de­vel­op­ing tele­vi­sion about 80 years ago. Dif­fer­ent groups are tak­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, and it is not clear which technology will prove best, he said.

In any case, he said, the Ari­zona sys­tem “pro­duces bright, sharp holo­graphic im­ages .... This thing is beau­ti­ful.” — AP ++++ www.na­ture.com

Sci­en­TiFic BreAK­ThroUgh: Peygham­bar­ian pic­tured with a re­fractable holo­graphic im­age of an F-4 Phan­tom jet in Tuc­son, Ari­zona. The new holo­graphic technology can project a near 360° im­age to an­other lo­ca­tion. — Reuters

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