New technology makes real-time 3D holograms a reality

Advanced holographic technology is extremely close to reality.

Over the past decade, the hype for VR and AR headsets has spread across our timeline, but they have yet to gain more popularity than TVs or computer monitors as a conventional interface for digital media. Besides the cost, one of the main reasons for this is simply the disorienting nature of wearing a device that simulates a 3D environment, which makes a lot of people sick. But the tides of tech are quickly revamping a 60-year-old tech for the howling 2020s: holograms.

Holograms you can touch and feel

More recently, MIT researchers have developed a new way to generate holograms with near-real-time fidelity, using a learning-based method with ultra-high efficiency. Efficiency is the key to this discovery, as its new neural network system allows holograms to run on a laptop, and maybe even a newer smartphone.

Researchers worked for a long time to create viable computer-generated holograms, but most models called for a supercomputer to walk through the physical simulations. It is very time consuming and generally produces holograms of disappointing fidelity. The work of MIT researchers therefore focused on overcoming these obstacles. “People previously thought that with existing consumer grade hardware it was impossible to do real-time 3D holography calculations,” said lead author of the study, Liang Shi, who is also a doctoral student. at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MIT (EECS), in an MIT blog post. “It is often said that commercially available holographic displays will be 10 years away, but this statement has been around for decades.”

Shi believes the new method, called “tensorial holography,” will finally make the future promise of holograms fruitful. If the researchers’ new approach works, this breakthrough could create a technological revolution in areas like 3D printing and virtual reality. And it’s been a long time since it comes. In 2019, scientists created a “tactile hologram” that humans can see and hear. The system, called a multi-model acoustic trap display (MATD), uses an LED projector, a foam bead, and a speaker array. The speakers emit waves at ultrasonic levels that keep the bead aloft and move it fast enough to appear to be moving and reflecting light from the projector. Humans can’t hear it, but the mechanical movement of the bead can be captured and focused to stimulate human ears for audio, “or stimulate your skin to feel content,” explained Martinez Plasencia, co-creator. of MATD and researcher. 3D user interfaces at the University of Sussex, a blog post from the University of Sussex.

In conventional lens-based photography, the brightness of each light wave is encoded, allowing a photo to produce high color fidelity of a scene, but this only gives us a flat 2D image. In contrast, holograms encode the brightness and phase of each light wave, which provides a more accurate representation of the depth and parallax of a scene. For example, a hologram could transform Monet’s ‘water lilies’ into a singular 3D texture, capturing every plush brushstroke, instead of highlighting the color palette in the illustration. While it might sound awesome, it is extremely difficult to create and share holograms.

Holograms Can Remove Living Things From Dangerous Roles

To overcome the tedious process of entering advanced physics, Shi’s team from the most recent study decided to let the computer teach physics. They dramatically accelerated computer-generated holography with deep learning AI, designing their own convolutional neural network. Neural networks use a chain of tensors that can be trained to mimic the way humans perceive visual information, which typically requires a large, high-quality set of data. And the researchers built their own database of 4,000 pairs of computer-generated images – where each pair corresponded to an image, based on the depth and color information of each pixel, with an associated hologram. Various and complex shapes and colors were used, distributing the pixels evenly between the foreground and background. The occlusion was overcome with physics-based calculations. With all of this, the algorithm was very successful, creating holograms orders of magnitude faster than physics-based calculations.

“We are amazed at his performance,” said Matusik, in the blog post. After just a few milliseconds, tensor holography successfully generated holograms from images using the depth information. This was taken from images encoded with depth information, generated by conventionally computer-generated images that engineers can calculate with a multi-camera or LiDAR sensor (newer smartphones already have them). It’s an incredible development, not least because the new 3D holographic system uses less than 1MB of memory to run its compact tensor array. “This is negligible, considering the tens of hundreds of gigabytes available on the latest cell phone.”

In other words, we are extremely close to putting high fidelity holograms in the hands of ordinary products on the market, in what human eyes feel like real time. Virtual reality and 3D printing are going to get a major upgrade, and that could have limitless applications. In February, a Germany-based circus troupe called Circus Roncalli announced that it would use holographic technology to replace its animals, thereby eliminating the possibility of animal abuse. Eventually, holograms could serve as a possible replacement not only for entertainment, but also for the “unconditional” relationship between humans and holograms. The future is strange and holograms are likely to occupy an increasingly central place in it.

About Dianne Stinson

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