True 3D Real-Time Holography

True 3D real-time holography has been demonstrated at the MIT Media Lab by Michael Bove's Object-Based Media group. Take a look at the following video for a demonstration, which uses the Kinect system to enter 3D data into the system.


(The Rebellion adopts Kinect hardware)

"This video shows the creation of a moving hologram of a person. So, we have in this conference room Princess Leia, and Princess Leia's video is being captured by a Kinect camera attached to an ordinary laptop. The laptop is sending the information over the Internet to another PC using an ordinary graphics card to calculate the hologram in real-time.

Because it's a hologram, it is three-dimensional, and one doesn't need to wear glasses to see it as 3D and one can move one's head to see around the object; this is called motion parallax and it's not true of ordinary television.

In this instance, the Kinect is being used as a cheap, off-the-shelf 3D camera. It works out the position of each pixel in three dimensions and conveys this information to the PC. The PC has three GPU based graphics cards which then compute the interference patterns needed to create the wavefront. The computation results in only 15 frames per second.

The display is a special device developed by students of Stephen Benton, a pioneer of holographic imaging who died in 2003.

The one component of the researchers’ experimental system that can’t be bought at an electronics store for a couple hundred dollars is the holographic display itself. It’s the result of decades of research that began with MIT’s Stephen Benton, who built the first holographic video display in the late 1980s. (When Benton died in 2003, Bove’s group inherited the holographic-video project.) The current project uses a display known as the Mark-II, a successor to Benton’s original display that both Benton’s and Bove’s groups helped design. But Bove says that his group is developing a new display that is much more compact, produces larger images, and should also be cheaper to manufacture. (Bove and his students reported on an early version of the display at the same SPIE conference four years ago.)

Mark Lucente, director of display products for Zebra Imaging in Austin, Texas, which is commercializing holographic displays for videoconferencing applications, says that his company’s prospective customers are often uncomfortable with the sheer computational intensity of holographic video. “It’s very daunting,” he says. “1.5 gigabytes per second are being generated on the fly.” By demonstrating that off-the-shelf components can keep up with the computational load, Lucente says, Bove’s group is “helping show that it’s within the realm of possibility.” Indeed, he says, “by taking a video game and using it as an input device, [Bove] shows that it’s a hop, skip and a jump away from reality.”

When the Media Lab researchers demonstrate their new technology at the conference in San Francisco, another grad student in Bove’s group, Edwina Portocarrero, sporting a cowled tunic and a wig with side buns, will re-enact the scene from the first Star Wars movie in which a hologram of Princess Leia implores Obi-Wan Kenobi to re-join the battle against the evil empire. The resolution of the real hologram won’t be nearly as high as that of the special-effects hologram in the movie, but as Bove points out, “Princess Leia wasn’t being transmitted in real time. She was stored.”

The scene is, of course, a deliberate recreation of the inspiring movie scene from the original Star Wars film.


(Help me, Obiwan Kenobi - you're my only hope)

From I-Programmer and MIT press release; thanks to Adi for the tip on this story.

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