The Sunday Times May 30, 2010
Watch closely, ‘Star Wars’ hologram TV is coming
THREE-DIMENSIONAL television may be the latest in home cinema, but it will soon seem so 2010. Scientists are already planning its successor — holographic television.
On a holo-TV, images will be projected into the middle of a room as a “cloud” that can be enjoyed from every angle without 3-D glasses.
It may even be possible to broadcast concerts in other arenas around the world and to view live, lifesize sporting events in stadiums thousands of miles from the real players.
Holographic enthusiasts have named it the “Stars Wars technology”, after a scene in the 1977 blockbuster where a holographic image of Princess Leia is briefly projected from the robot R2-D2 pleading: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
NHK, the Japanese equivalent of the BBC, has committed to creating the first holo-TV within six years.
It is sponsoring research at giant Japanese companies such as Sony and Mitsubishi and has dispatched engineers to America, where scientists have already generated basic holographic transmissions.
The University of Arizona recently announced it had used lasers and powerful computers to generate single-coloured clouds of images. Nasser Peyghambarian, professor of optical sciences at the university, said adding colour and fluid movement was “closer than ever”.
NHK has earmarked £2.8 billion for developing holo-TVs, as part of Japan’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup in Tokyo, but hopes to have prototypes working much earlier.
Jun Murai, a scientist known as “the father of the Japanese internet”, is advising NHK. Using holographic broadcasting over satellites, he said, football games in Tokyo could be relayed to a London stadium where full-sized players would appear so life-like that fans would believe they were at the match.
Holo-TVs would not have to be mounted on walls. Last week, a Sony engineer said they would more likely resemble a large book laid on the floor. Lasers would then project the cloud into the middle of the room.
“With wires running under the carpet, you could fill the room with a football match or Hollywood heroes leaping between your sofas,” said the engineer.