Scientists make large-scale holographic displays an affordable reality

A new method of creating holographic video displays is making the technology not only cheaper, but possible to produce on a large scale, making holographic advertising such as Back to the Future II’s attacking poster for Jaws 19 a potential reality.

Developed by scientists at Brigham Young University (BYU) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the technology uses surface acoustic waves in specific patterns to control the angle and colour composition of the emitted light, creating the hologram’s shape and look.

“We can use this technology to make simple and inexpensive color waveguide displays — including inexpensive holographic video displays,” explained Daniel E Smalley, assistant professor of electrical engineering at BYU.

“This can drop the cost of a holographic video display from tens of thousands of dollars to less than a thousand.”

holographic-waveguide

One of the many waveguide devices that form BYU’s holographic display.

At the core of the technology is a surface of lithium niobate (LiNbO3), a crystal with excellent optical properties.

Below its surface, the scientists created tiny channels known as waveguides, which confine the light. They then added a metal electrode onto each waveguide that produces the surface acoustic waves that project and control the light as a hologram.

In this way, each waveguide effectively functions as a pixel, together creating the overall image.

One of the key benefits of this technology is the colour possibilities, as it creates a new type of colour display.

“For a wavelength display, we don’t need to rely on color filter wheels or dedicated red and blue pixels,” explained Smalley.

Instead, any colour is possible simply by altering the frequency sent to the waveguide.

“We can colour the output of our display by ‘colouring’ the frequencies of the drive signal,” said Smalley.

“As a bonus, this interaction also rotates the polarization of the signal light so that we can use a polarizer to eliminate any noise in the system.”

holographic-display

BYU’s holographic video monitor.

While the technology has proved to be successful, there is still some way to go before we’ll be attacked by holographic creatures promoting the latest blockbusters.

The scientists’ next step, which they are currently working on, is to make the technology work on displays the size of rooms.

Once successful, however, their technology is likely to be welcomed by advertising companies looking for the next high-impact way to reach consumers. And when that happens, it will only be a matter of time before holograms become a common sight in our towns and cities.


Featured image screenshot from Back to the Future II. Inline images courtesy of D Smalley/BYU.


 

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC