Open Competition 3 - Electronics and Photonics
Spectrally-Multiplexed Holographic Video
Advance holographic visualization technology from still images to full-motion full color images suitable for use in scientific visualization, medical evaluation, and entertainment by overcoming challenges related to image resolution, data processing, and consumer-level pricing.
Sponsor: Actuality Systems, Inc.164 Middlesex Turnpike
Burlington, MA 01803
Aiming to make real-time, three-dimensional (3-D) video more affordable and convenient (no glasses), Actuality Systems plans to develop a suite of innovative holographic and optical technologies that it will integrate with low-cost, off-the-shelf components in this two-year project. Lowering the cost of interactive, photorealistic 3-D video systems would make powerful imaging capabilities available for a broad range of uses in health care, product design, education, gas and oil exploration, entertainment, military surveillance, and other fields and industries. Actuality Systems approach to holographic video relies on spectral multiplexing, which uses the viewer's "persistence of vision" to fuse multiple two-dimensional (2-D) images into one 3-D scene. Generated with advanced computer graphics techniques, the 2-D perspective views are projected in rapid sequence through a rotating holographic optical element, a device similar to bar code scanners used in supermarkets. The element contains many diffraction gratings so that the series of views being scanned exits at different angles and then proceeds to a vertical diffuser screen, which acts as the hologram plane. The result is a high-resolution holographic image, rendered on equipment that can fit on a desktop or an airplane cockpit. Actuality Systems spectral multiplexing approach has the potential to greatly reduce the amount of computing resources necessary to produce lifelike 3-D video. This, in turn, could reduce the cost of high-quality 3-D display technologies to about one-tenth of the current level. The novel approach requires a set of supporting innovations and completing several high-risk technical tasks, such as miniaturizing an illumination and projection engine, refining or developing algorithms for multiple viewpoint rendering, and developing techniques assuring high-quality images. Potential applications of affordable holographic video technology are many, especially in the $22 billion visualization and simulation market. In the diverse area of medical imaging, high-quality 3-D displays would aid, for example, in diagnosis, pinpointing the location of tumors or other sites of disease, and improving the accuracy and effectiveness of radiation therapy. ATP funding is necessary for Actuality Systems to advance its ideas and embryonic technology to the prototype stage, since private-sector funding sources are reluctant to invest in high-risk display-related technologies.