If someone left you a voicemail saying “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi [or whatever your name is]. You’re my only hope,” you’d probably just delete it. Because voicemails are annoying and why didn’t they just text or tweet or something? Jeez. Now, if a 3D hologram of a beautiful princess were to suddenly appear over your iPad, that might get your attention (and motivate you to recruit Luke Skywalker and Han Solo to join you on your mission to thwart the plans of Darth Vader and his Imperial forces, eventually resulting in the destruction of the Death Star and a huge victory for the rebel alliance). Well according to scientists at Hewlett-Packard Labs, that kind of 3D holographic technology is no longer light years away.
Desperate, three-dimensional pleas for help could be beaming out of your smartphone or tablet sometime in the near future. Hewlett-Packard researchers have designed an LED emitting screen that is capable of producing 3D images like the Leia hologram that R2-D2 projects in Star Wars. The image, which doesn’t require the use of 3D glasses, is created when light rays, aimed towards a centre point, “encounter pixels that steer the light out of the screen in different directions.”
The device is still in development, but the tiny prototype is capable of creating a 3D image that can be viewed from many different angles. Scientists are currently working on perfecting the technology to give the projected images a smoother appearance
“There is considerable work to be done to improve the quality to an acceptable level,” scientist David Fattal told The Guardian. However, he adds, “in principle you would be able to move your head around the display, rotate your head in any direction, and still see a 3D image, much like what you see in Star Wars, with the famous hologram of Princess Leia.” Fattal says that the holograms might first be used in 3D advertising, but it’s possible that the technology will soon be adapted for phones and tablets, too.
Always in motion is the future.