The latest 3D televisions let images ‘leap out’ of the screen – provided you’re wearing a pair of geeky glasses.
But new ‘holographic’ technology might project images right into your living room – turning it into scenery as convincing as anything that Hollywood can conjure.
Science fiction? Not at all. At this week’s Tokyo game show, Yoichi Wada, president of Japanese gaming giant Square Enix said that the ‘future’ of gaming could be consoles that project holograms into the front room: similar to the holograms used to communicate in Star Wars.
Apple this week also patented a technology that would project a 3D image and allow users to manipulate virtual objects with their hands.
Sony has previously talked of technologies that would use projected light beams to make an image ‘float’ in the centre of a room.
‘The whole thing’s hypothetical at the moment, ‘ says Pat Garratt, editor of leading game news site VG247, whose reporters were at the show. ‘The concept hinges on objects being filmed from all angles as opposed to two angles, as you have with stereoscopic 3D – the technology used in films such as Avatar.’
‘Sony’s managed to get 3D images floating independently in front of TV screens, but we really are talking research and development here. You’re not going to be playing Star Wars chess any time soon.This technology is still years away.’
Earlier this year, Sony demonstrated a ‘3D’ image of a dog sitting inside a black jar, which could be viewed from any angle. It was created by beaming light through a network of fibres within the jar.
‘Video games always push what can be achieved with computers visually, and it’s natural for such a dynamic industry to constantly search for its way forward,’ says Garratt.
Consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox already have games where users ‘appear’ in 3D on screen via a motion-sensor camera mounted on top of the television, allowing users to ‘star’ in everything from war games to a version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Television broadcasts using such a technology could require at least 200 HD cameras filming the action simultaneously: hence ‘holograms’ might first appear in the gaming world.
Both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 already offer 3D gaming – and new televisions from Toshiba finally offer the possiblity of glasses-free 3D – although current versions of 3D tend to let one ‘look in’ to the screen, rather than looking all around an object.
True 3D holographic projections would be another leap forward for the technology – and offer mesmerising, ‘real’ environments to explore.
Sony are so confident in the technology that they have offered holographic broadcasts to the globe as part of their bid of the 2022 World Cup.
The technology could also be used in films, or even as a new way to interact with computers – ie instead of a ‘flat’ desktop, you would move files around inside a ‘room’.
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