When Gene Rodenberry introduced the Holodeck to Star Trek it sent the imagination of many Sci-Fi fans and countless researchers into overdrive, including yours truly. The idea of the Holodeck was inspired by Gene Dolgoff a holographic pioneer who suggested the concept to Rodenberry. The full conceptualization of Rodenberry’s vision may be some time away but inspired scientist, researchers and inventors are making headway. The news of the patent application by Microsoft (News - Alert) for its immersive display system has everyone questioning how far off are we to start interacting with a holographic environment.
This is a direct description of the device as submitted to the patent office and the claims it makes:
“ An interactive computing system configured to provide an immersive display experience within a display environment, the system comprising: a peripheral input configured to receive depth input from a depth camera; a primary display output configured to output a primary image to a primary display device; an environmental display output configured to output a peripheral image to an environmental display; a logic subsystem operatively connectable to the depth camera via the peripheral input, to the primary display via the primary display output, and to the environmental display via the environmental display output; and a data-holding subsystem holding instructions executable by the logic subsystem to: within the display environment, track a user position using the depth input received from the depth camera, and output a peripheral image to the environmental display for projection onto an environmental surface of the display environment so that the peripheral image appears as an extension of the primary image and shields a portion of the user position from light projected from the environmental display.”
The language used in patent applications is not prose but it describes the concept of the invention and the potential. In brief, the long application can be summarized by saying it will be able to interact with the user for an immersive 3D experience using glasses to synchronize with a projector and Environmental Display. The system is intended for gaming applications.
The environmental display can project panoramic images surrounding the user and placing him or her in the projected environment. The 360 degree projector surrounds the user using depth sensing cameras with multiple image capturing capacity. The images are then stitched in a panoramic image from a plurality of captured images. When the images are displayed around the room it creates the desired environment.
If all goes according to plan the player will be able to see everything that is happening within the game in the room, theoretically making it possible to experience attacks from the back and doing the same to enemies portrayed in the game.
While the concept is beautiful and inspired the application may not be possible right now. It may not be ideal in a living room with furniture but an empty basement with four walls can be the best location to experience the full potential of this device when and if it comes to fruition.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman