Could we be on the verge of a new ‘tele-visionary’ breakthrough? Holographic TV promises to deliver an all-new watching experience. Yes indeed, the floating 3 dimensional images you might remember from various science fiction films seem to become reality soon. I still remember my astonishment when seeing Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner for the first time. The holograms used inside the film seemed so utterly advanced that it felt like I would never witness its realization in the real world. Yet it might be popularized as fast as 2020. This exciting new technology is being developed as we speak. Lets take a closer look.
3D versus Holographic TV
As you might know, the LED and Plasma television technology of today is being combined with 3D to visually pull the image out of the screen. Yet we need these inconvenient 3D glasses. This is a turn down for many consumers as it somewhat spoils the experience. Television manufacturers are however working on 3D displays that can deliver 3D without the use of glasses. Yet the real question is if there still is a future for 3D television. Holographic television – also called holo-TV – might be the direct successor of 3D TV.
How does Holographic projection work?
There are different companies investing in holographic technology. Therefor there are different possible approaches to present moving holographic images. The most natural and ideal vision would be that a holographic TV could project its images to a centralized position in the room. The three-dimensional image would be materialized onto a transposing substance, cloud-like. This would give viewers the possibility to view a scene from every possible, visible angle.
An existing method that comes close to this is the Cheoptics360. A team of Swedish designers and engineers from viZoo and Romboll are developing it. It uses four projectors, which combine their beams to build a hologram inside of a transparent pyramid. Inside this invisible prism the images are mirrored and reflected, creating a floating scenery. And indeed, you can watch the projection from every angle. It can even be scaled up to 30 meters.
True Holographic Television
Another way holographic video can be achieved was presented by TCL at the Consumer Technology Tradeshow (CES) in 2012. The company presented a Virtual Holographic TV. This devise, which looks a lot more like a traditional television uses glasses-free 3D technology. It is therefore more like an advanced 3D TV. The images can’t be watched from every physical angle. I therefore can only conclude that nameing this 3D TV 'Virtual Holographic Television' is more of a sales argument than anything else. Still, it gives us a good idea what the near future could bring.
Holographic Technology in Videoconferencing
Last but not least, there are other areas in which holographic technology can be used. In 2011 Cisco and Musion Systems presented their Cisco TelePresence: a live on-stage holographic videoconference in India. By combining 3D holographic display technology and an advanced interactive conference system the companies were able to create the first real time virtual presentation. While the audience was watching a real life host on stage in Bangalore, two representatives of the companies were ‘beamed up’ on the stage. Yet they were actually in California at that moment. The photorealistic and life-size virtual duo then interacted with the audience and the host in India.
I am really curious when holographic technology will finally find a break-through into the consumer world. But when it does, I'm sure it will become the new television standard.