Technological leap for Holograms: Real-Time “Doodles of Light.”

Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers have developed and implemented an algorithm that turns freely drawn lines into holograms using a standard desktop CPU. These algorithms are significantly cheaper than those that use dedicated hardware and consume more power. It can convert writing into lines quickly and produces crisp images that are up to industry standards. Remotely-written instructions can be superimposed on landscapes or workbenches.

Flying cars, robots, spaceships…whatever sci-fi future you can imagine, there is always a common feature: holograms. Holography isn’t just for aesthetics. There are many potential uses for holography, including remote instructions for surgical procedures and electronic assembly on circuit boards. It can also enhance vital, practical tasks such as directions projected onto landscapes for navigation. It is crucial to make holograms accessible in many settings to use this technology in everyday life. In 3D, the same quality that we have come to expect from our 2D displays is impossible. This requires supercomputing level numbers crunching. Power consumption is another issue. Although GPUs, more widely available in gaming rigs, can overcome some of these problems with raw power and less electricity, the impact on mobile applications is still significant. Despite the improvements in hardware available, we cannot expect a solution from brute force.

Limiting the number of images projected is a crucial solution. A team headed by Assistant Professor Takashi Nishitsuji has proposed and implemented an unprecedented resolution. They decided to draw lines only in 3D space. Although this sounds extreme, it is pretty impressive. They connected a tablet and conventional hologram generator hardware to create an elegant solution. A laser and a spatial light modulator. Their algorithm is so fast that handwriting from the tablet can be converted into images in real-time. They used a standard desktop computer with no GPU to expand the possibilities of how it could be implemented. Although the photos were slightly less sharp than other more computationally intensive methods of creating them, they still needed to meet industry standards for writing quality.

This means that holograms could soon be in our homes and workplaces. The team mainly focuses on HUDs (heads-up displays) in cars and helmets, where navigation instructions could be displayed on the terrain instead of on distracting screens or voice instructions. This algorithm’s light computational load significantly expands the possibilities for this promising technology. Sci-fi might not be the future of the future.

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