Scientific visualization, engineering design and medical imaging could soon benefit from 3D images that can be seen without headsets or special glasses.
There has been an explosion in the production of 3D data in recent years. Whether from product designs and layouts created using computer-aided design (CAD), simulations, depth scanners, geographical data or medical scans, generating 3D content has become commonplace. However, there’s a missing link when it comes to viewing 3D content. Although many movies are still filmed in 3D, they are viewed in conventional left/right stereo 3D, which is too rudimentary for scientists and engineers, who require a way to visualize complex information in detail. Cue holography.
It’s Just an Illusion
Holography should not be confused with augmented reality, which is simply a data overlay. More a visualization and presentation medium, holographic images—which are visually indistinguishable from the real-world object—have the potential to become an incredibly powerful way of engaging with visual content in industry.
Holography is an illusion. Invented over 70 years ago and most commonly seen as small holograms used as security seals on products, for decades physicists and holography technicians have sought to create true 3D displays. To create a reflection hologram, a technician needs to stop a laser light beam, which means projecting it on to some kind of surface, such as a screen or glass; light cannot be stopped in midair. Light needs to bounce off something so the human eye can see color and brightness. Another necessity is a small yet powerful enough projector that will work in natural light.