From Princess Leia to Tony Stark: The Future of Holograms is Near

Geeks know better than anyone: the future is holograms. I mean, ever since Star Wars we’ve been dreaming of communication via tiny, rendered, animated graphics beamed across interstellar space. Or at least, I have.

Turns out, we’re not the only ones. A team of researchers in the US are working hard to bring this fantasy to reality. Based out of the University of Arizona, according to the BBC, the group is investigating ways that the hologram could change the way we not only communicate but do business as well. From the BBC article:

“We foresee many applications, for example in manufacturing,” said Professor Nasser Peyghambarian from Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences. “Car manufacturers or airplane manufacturers could look at holograms and design their systems in real time. They could look at 3D models and make changes as they go. Imagine a very complicated surgical procedure – then with this system surgeons around the world could participate. They could see the whole procedure in real-time and in 3D, and help out.

From the sound of that quote, however, I think the concept has strayed far from the Leia idea and gone full-Ironman. You know what I’m talking about. Tony Stark’s awesome lair from the films, where he’s able to project and manipulate holographic images. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the movies, watching him expand and change various inventions in a holographic state.

As far as the work of the team from the University of Arizona, the holograms they’re proposing are quite intriguing. Yes, they are in 3D, but no glasses are needed to see the images. The hope is that, eventually, a full-sized 360 degree hologram will be possible. Much of the hope in the project lies in the plastic screen material the team has utilized, which records 3D holographic images. The article explains the process of filming the holograms as “16 cameras recorded 2D images of objects and people from multiple angles, and then sent that information to another location using a computer connection.”

Professor Peyghambarian is confident that the technology will be available within the next decade:

Coming up with improvements to the polymer is going to take some time, and also coming up with better lasers is going to take some time. In about two to three years, we should be able to do those aspects. And then transferring that into a product is going to take another three to four years. But I don’t believe there is any physics that would prevent us from getting there.

So maybe we won’t have jet-packs. But I can totally get on board with holograms. The future is almost here, folks.

[Image: BBC News]