Holographic video conferencing is no longer just science fiction

Thursday, November 4 2010

Researchers at the University of Arizona are within reach of creating a holographic video conferencing system.

The MIT Technology Review reports that live, full-color, three-dimensional images of a researcher in California were recently sent to collaborators in Arizona. The display refreshed every two seconds.

Next for the researchers is to develop a system that refreshes faster, at standard video rates.

Holograms are displays that use an effect called diffraction to replicate the light that comes from an object in an image so that the object will appear as if it were physically in front of the viewer.

"Holography makes for the best 3-D displays because it's closest to how we see our surroundings," Nasser Peyghambarian, chair of photonics and lasers at the University of Arizona, told Tech Review.

The first video holographic display, smaller than a thimble, was made in 1989 at MIT's Media Lab, according to the publication.

The same University of Arizona research group built a prototype for the holographic display two years ago that could refresh every four minutes, reports Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company.

The hologram is created by 16 cameras taking two-dimensional pictures of an object at different angles every second, according to Schwartz. A computer then converts the images into data and a laser recording system sends the data over an ethernet link.