Holographic hopes

A team of Aberdeen University academics has claimed that 3D televisions displaying holographic images floating in mid-air could be a reality in households within the next decade.


Led by Prof John Watson from the university’s School of Engineering, experts from the institution were partners in a four-year European Commission-funded project to investigate the underlying principles, technologies and practicalities of introducing 3D TV systems to the mass market.


The findings of the project suggest that a stereoscopic 3D TV with the viewer wearing 3D glasses is near market and may only be a few months away.


More advanced systems based on autostereoscopic technology, which do not require the wearing of glasses, are being piloted by several TV manufacturers and are only two or three years away from market.


The ultimate 3D experience, using fully interactive floating holographic images – similar to that seen when Princess Leia appears in front of Luke Skywalker as a hologram in Star Wars – could be on the market by 2018.


The university was one of 19 institutions across Europe, brought together under a European Commission Network of Excellence in the €6m (approximately £5.1m) research project co-ordinated by Bilkent University in Turkey which concluded this month.


Watson said: ‘In order for 3DTV to become a reality, a number of significant technological developments need to be made.


‘Importantly this includes the development of technology to allow programmes to be created that can be televised in this format and the ability to transmit the vast amount of information needed to realise a fully 3D image.


‘If 3DTV is holographic then this would involve the use of cutting-edge laser technology during the programme filming process.


He added: ‘It’s likely that within three years we will see a television on the market that will use autostereo systems to create 3D images, so viewers do not need to wear traditional 3D glasses. 


‘However, in 10 years’ time it is highly probable that television using holographic images that appear to float as if in mid-air will be available for consumers to purchase.’