After watching Captain Picard solving all those Victorian murder mysteries on the Enterprise’s holodeck, we have to say that staring at a basic, flat-panel monitor is sooooo 20th century. Wasn’t the future of television watching supposed to be way cooler than this by now? Yeah, it was, but don’t worry; those spiffy high-tech displays have only been delayed, not scrapped entirely. A veritable army of hard-working engineers have been laboring day and night to bring flexible phones, holograms you can feel, physical 3D interfaces, and touchscreen, well, everything to your living room, car and workplace sometime soon. And hey, we’ve got actual pictures to prove it!
Despite the skepticism, of the commentariat, I believe that 3D television is inevitable. Within a few years, all television sets and all Blu-Ray players and all gaming consoles will be 3D capable. And because the capability is there, studios and networks will continue to use it as an audience magnet for important events.
I also believe that the current implementation of 3D technology—using polarized or active shutter glasses is only an intermediate stage. The ideal 3D system—the one we really want—will be some form of wall-sized holographic projection that does not require any special glasses at all. And while that technology was seemingly impossible only a few short years ago, I think we’re on the threshold of a breakthrough. I’ll explain.
My father was a professional photographer. He worked hard to master his craft and he built his own cameras to his own precise specifications. I watched him build them in his workshop, fascinated by the process. In those days, a camera was a large and bulky box with a frosted glass plate in the back for focusing—you stuck your head under a black velvet hood to line up the shot. The image was upside down on the glass, so you had to mentally invert it. (Talk about your single-lens reflex system!)
Every exposure required an 8x10 sheet of film. You loaded each sheet into one side of a large two-sided plate — kind of like a cartridge-thing, only huge. You put a sheet of film on each side and you slid a covering slide over each piece of film to protect it from the light. Did I mention that you had to do this in the darkroom, so called because you were literally working in the dark? You loaded the film into the plates in total darkness, by feel alone. You couldn’t risk even the slightest smidge of light. You couldn’t even risk a spark of static electricity. (I loaded film for my dad a few times. It was time consuming and tedious. It was not my idea of fun. I’ve had fun, this wasn’t it.) You loaded up as many plates as you expected to use and lugged them around in a heavy case.
When you were ready to take a picture, you slid the cartridge-thing into the back of the camera, just in front of the glass panel, pulled out the slide that protected the film from light, squeezed the air-pressure bulb that clicked the shutter, slid the covering slide back over the film, pulled out the cartridge-thing, flipped it over, reinserted it into the camera so you could expose the film on the flip side.
In the land down under they’ve got a lot of neat things that are all their own, the John Butler Trio, dingoes, babies for them to eat, and now holographic car salesman. PDM, Australia’s number one digital media company has just launched the first life-size “Holographic Virtual Assistant” at the Audi Centre Sydney, Rosebery.
The holograph works with 3M’s dynamic Vikuiti rear projection film and rear mounted photo projector technology. Given Vikuiti’s particular digital content abilities, it’s allowed PDM to convert a 10mm thick piece of Perspex into a virtual, talking person.
The virtual assistant provides most of the essential information that one would need when looking to buy an Audi. What the dealership is offering, and targeted information depending on who is in the building at that time is all provided.
According to Allan Brinck, the Dealer Principal, “The Audi brand prides itself on innovation and quality and being a progressive brand, we are once again leading the way with this cutting-edge installation. We have been aware of PDM’s track record of innovation in the Australian marketplace for quite some time. The Virtual assistant is a great way for us to connect with our customers and a great example of Audi’s progressive brand coming to life.”
Core 2 Quad? That's so early 2008. Intel officially launched its Core i7 CPU on Monday, and this speedy new chip is the hot topic of discussion this week. The podcast gang grills Gordon about his benchmarking experience with three Core i7 CPUs, and we have a lively debate about the usefulness of CNN's hologram interview technology. The release of the Left4Dead demo excites everyone, and we also welcome a new member to the Maximum PC team. As always, we also answer a load of listener questions!
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.
While the presidential election might only come around every four years, the monotonous coverage has become all too predictable. Tuning in to your favorite news station will inevitably net pundits from both the Republican and Democratic parties giving a play-by-play analysis of how the voting has gone aided by a blue and red color coded map of the United States. Rinse and repeat in four years.
But this year the process looks to get a bit more interesting from a technological standpoint. Instead of remote interviews showing the candidates on a split screen or a floating window, CNN will look to up its geek cred with the use of holograms.
"Everyone is doing something virtual this election year," says CNN senior VP David Bohrman, the guy who pushed the technology. "Virtual elements in a real set look so much better than a real person in a virtual set."
To make it happen, CNN will use 44 cameras and 20 computers in each remote location to capture 360-degree imaging data of the person being interviewed. The images will then be processed and beamed by computers and cameras located in New York. The end result, if all goes to plan, is that those being interviewed, whether a spokesperson from the Obama or McCain camp, will appear as though he or she is in CNN's television studio.
Will holographic interviews make you more likely to tune into CNN? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
It can be kind of hard to get excited over advances in advertising technology, but this new video from RealFiction is enough to get us interested. It shows off the company’s new holographic display, called the Dreamoc, which combines physical and virtual elements to create a pretty compelling effect.
The video shows a cell phone placed inside the display’s pyramidal glass case, with a rotating hologram “emerging” from the devices display. It’s a snazzy effect, and definitely worth a watch.
There’s no word on how much the display will cost, or how widely available it will be, so it’s too soon to say whether the Dreamoc’s going to be just a toy for the most upscale retailers or if you’ll see one in your neighborhood GameStop. Either way, it’s always good to see advances in the commercial application of 3D imagery. Hopefully it won’t be too long before this sort of technology becomes practical for consumer displays.
Hollywood has been on the touch computing bandwagon long before Microsoft debuted its surface technology, and while we may never see a computer like the one Tom Cruise used in Minority Report to hunt down future criminals, or be engulfed in a virtual holographic cone like Michael Douglas in Disclosure, we are starting to see some real life groovy demonstrations of the emerging technology.
The newest example comes from the high tech marketing gurus at Obscura Digital, who recently showed off its VisionAire project. On its blog, Obscura describes the artsy demonstration as "our standard multi-touch framework [integrated] with the Musion system we have in house," but instead of actually touching anything, the presenter gestures in mid-air to control the windows and objects seen floating around.
Catch the video here, then fire up your Wii to be reminded how far the technology still has to go before being ready for home use.
If you already own an R2D2 droid, then move along. For everyone else, be prepared to beam 3D images to and fro in the not too distant future. That is, if you're drinking the same Kool-Aid as Infosys. The ambitious tech company promises a holographic handset by 2010. With it, you'll be able to capture and send 3D snapshots by taking a series of 2D shots and using an algorithm to transform and calculate the extra third dimension. Infosys also envisions the technology being used in games, movies, and more.