The Next Big Thing: Holographic Projector and Virtual Touch Screen

Back in 2010, 3D was a booming phenomenon right after the big hit of the popular 3D movie entitled Avatar. A lot of analysts and technology futurists even consider 3D to be the next big thing as it starts to see a new light in display industry despite the not very successful development in early stage. But then after swimming out in the mass market for around three years by now, one of the supposedly next big thing does not seem to take off very well. Display manufacturers are less optimistic than they used to be at the beginning while the market are responding to this realism-driven technology in slow motion due to the relatively steep prices and lack of relevant contents. However, the 3D technology may receive a new life with the emerging trend of holographic projector and virtual touch screen which basically derives from the same realism concept of 3D with holographic, life-like projection. In fact, it is very likely that the next big thing to expect in near future is the holographic projector and virtual touch screen.

Like 3D technology which is not really new technology despite the next big thing tag, holographic projector is originated around four years back or even older than that. If you are Starwars big fan, holographic projector is very realistic and feasible device than the rest of futuristic devices. In fact, the immensely famous sci-fi movie franchise depicts holographic projector as common communication devices in far future which works mainly to transmit and project objects into 3D hologram images. Unlike standard projectors, holographic projector allows audience to see objects including people in most realistic depiction in 360 degree view of hologram. Even better, some companies researched into the hologram indicates that there is also possibility to actually touch virtual objects with your very own hand; redefining the realism and interaction altogether while offering another next big thing in projection and display industry. But it remains as something to be seen in the future as today interactive projectors are still powerful and handy enough for a lot of users in diverse applications. Despite the fact, it is quite reasonable to think that such future is surely near enough and that you may be able to see some holographic projector in real, ready to use products, not only prototypes. To support the prediction of holographic projector as the next big thing, there have been a strong interest indicated by three technology giants toward this product: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Although each of them seems to take different approach for the application of the holographic projector itself, they are looking at the same benefit of holographic projector to deliver more intuitive and realistic user experience.

The future of projection industry may put the holographic projector on the limelight as the next big thing to expect. However, holographic projector is definitely going to need help or integration with other technologies so as to ensure it is widely applicable and does not suffer from the same fate as 3D technology did. For instance, Microsoft developed holographic projector by leveraging on augmented reality technology. The holographic projector offers new approach on interaction in which users interact with virtual stereoscopic objects displayed by the projector with the concept of augmented reality. What's more, they are also working on HoloDesk project which operates on the same mechanism of holographic projector to provide 3D projection and interaction as they are meant to be. On different note, Google also shows optimism toward holographic projector to be featured in their future devices. Their seemingly great interest is prety obvious considering that they even have acquire patents for holographic projector. After all, if you think it again, holographic projector can indeed be a good match for mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones to allow users projects or share any contents on the go for other viewing in most realistic way possible. Similarly, Apple which is easily eternal enemy of Google, are looking at possibility of holographic projection to empower their iDevices including holographic projector. With the holographic projector, it seems that Apple tries to offer big screen projector experience from within their super mobile devices; practically creating immersive visual experience anywhere anytime. Nevertheless, such integration of holographic projector to Apple iDevices may still hold for future. Instead, they have been working to have built-in projector into Macbook to enable users project without using any kind of projector devices. Some of of prototypes of holographic projector in recent development can be found from HP which send Starwars big fans into histeria with Princess Leia hologram showcase and Microsoft which is doing experiment with their own Kinect to enhance the holographic projection.

On different note, the next big thing you can expect coming from holographic projection is the virtual touch screen. Working very differently from holographic projector where the hologram, 3D effect is focused on the projected image, virtual touch screen is basically what you will get by projecting into any surface. If existing touch screen panel simplifies control experience by allowing more intuitive interaction, virtual touch screen simply eliminates the hardware altogether and lets you really interact with your very hand alone for a truly seamless interaction. As conventional, physical touch screen is used in a wide range of devices as control interface options or displays, virtual touch screen can be easily turned into any input and control devices too. Apple, among others, has this vision for their future iMac. Using holographic projection system, the future iMac is said to rely on built-in camera and sensor to detect user presence and project a virtual touch screen on the table for input. With the virtual touch screen, users certainly can save enormous space as everything is virtual-based and intelligently provided accordingly to their presence and requirements for ultimate hassle-free computing experience. While there have not been any real development on virtual touch screen as alternative control options, there is also possibility to integrate holographic projection technology with control systems and lighting systems for highly effective and efficient installation. In summary, holographic projector and virtual touch screen is indeed among the next big thing we cannot wait to see in the future with all of its wonder of making everything comes alive.

(Date: 22 May 2013; Lidya)

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