Holograms Will Give Video a 3D Look

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University of Arizona scientists have developed a holographic telepresence system that projects a 3D, full-color, moving image -- but doesn't require viewers to wear special glasses to see the image properly.

"Let's say I want to give a presentation in New York. All I need is an array of cameras in my Tucson office and a fast Internet connection. At the other end, in New York, there would be a 3D display using our laser system," said optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian in a statement.

A prototype of the holographic technology records an image with an array of regular video cameras, each one viewing the object from a different angle. Then it uses fast-pulsed laser beams to create holographic, or 3D, pixels. Those pixels are the building blocks of the images, according to the university.

Pierre-Alexandre Blanche, an assistant research professor at the university, said the key development is "a screen made of a novel photorefractive material, capable of refreshing holograms every two seconds, making it the first to achieve a speed that can be described as quasi-real-time."

Telepresence systems are gaining popularity among large corporations that want to cut down on travel, and holographic technology would enhance the telepresence experience by adding 3D graphics. The new technology could, for example, allow people to see a new-product prototype in 3D before spending money to build it, said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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