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3D Holographic Displays a Reality

by September 04, 2007


The USC Institute for Creative Technologies has developed a set of rendering techniques for an autostereoscopic light field display able to present interactive 3D graphics to multiple simultaneous viewers 360 degrees around the display.

Paraphrased from the USC Institute's website:

The display consists of a high-speed video projector, a spinning mirror covered by a holographic diffuser, and FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) circuitry to decode specially rendered DVI video signals. The display uses a standard programmable graphics card to render over 5,000 images per second of interactive 3D graphics, projecting 360-degree views with 1.25 degree separation up to 20 updates per second (Hz).

The USC Institute has nailed down the system's projection geometry and its calibration process, and they have presented a multiple-center-of-projection rendering technique for creating perspective-correct images from arbitrary viewpoints around the display. This projection technique allows correct vertical perspective and parallax to be rendered for any height and distance when these parameters are known, they have even demonstrated the effect with interactive raster graphics using a tracking system to measure the viewer's height and distance. In addition, they further applied their projection technique to the display of photographed light fields with accurate horizontal and vertical parallax. Color imagery is also taken into account, though is not as far along.

The system is incredible and there is a video on the website (via YouTube).  Basically a mirror, coated with a holographic diffuser, spins at 20Hz and allows you to view the projected image (motion or static, raster or vector) in full 3D from any angle. You can even get a lot of elevation so as to look down on the object.

Interactivity was demonstrated as well so that vector objects could be rotated in full 3D space, allowing views from all directions and sides. The medical aspects of this technology are endless - think about combining this with an MRI, for example. For consumer use, I could see this working with some kind of video game technology to create a truly immersive experience for players where they could truly see all aspects of a scene.

Watch the video

The system was demoed at SIGGRAPH 2007 but we hope to see it at next year's CES as well. This is something I certainly want to view up close and personal. Bring on the holograms!

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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