Better 3D video through holography?


Image of a hologram at the MIT Museum, image by Meutia Chaerani, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license

A recent Physics World news story (“Holographic video comes up to speed“, 25 January 2011) reports on fascinating work being done at the MIT Media Lab that is pushing the envelope for holographic video.  The Physics World news story notes that the MIT researchers have created, “…a system that can reproduce a 3D scene 15 times every second.”  This is getting very close to the 24 frames per second (standard for feature films) and 30 frames per second (standard for television).

The setup that the MIT researchers are using employs a single Xbox 360 Kinect camera and a standard laptop on the transmitting end, and a standard desktop computer with three (slightly modified) graphics processing chips on the receiving end.  Up to this point, all of the technology involved is inexpensive off the shelf gear.  Specialized hardware only appears with the display used to project the hologram.  The Physics World article explains that the specialized display uses, “…arrays of components known as ‘wafels’, which can control the intensity of light emitted in all directions” to reproduce the moving 3D images.  It may only be a matter of a few short years before the display technology is commercialized…

On a personal note, I have long been fascinated by holography.  As a young teenager growing up in New Jersey, I remember discovering the Museum of Holography on a visit to New York City.  For many years, no trip into Manhattan was complete without a stop at the Museum.  I was greatly dismayed when the Museum closed its doors permanently in 1992.  However, in researching this blog post, I was happy to discover that the entire collection from the New York Museum of Holography (the largest and most complete collection of holograms in the world) was transferred (in 1993) to the MIT Museum.  It thus seems only fitting that MIT is the site of these new and exciting developments.

Related links:
PhysicsWorld news story
MITnews article on the “holographic TV” project
MIT Media Lab Consumer Holo-Video project page
MIT Museum Holography Collection page

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