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Perspecta Walk Around 3D Display

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.

Displays 138

Spinneyhead writes "New Scientist reports on the Perspecta display, a goldfish bowl like device that displays moving images in such a way that they seem to "float" within the display. "To display the image, software inside the Perspecta chops a 3D model generated by the computer into 198 separate pieces, like slices of cake, which are then projected onto the screen in quick succession by a graphics accelerator that feeds image slices to an optical system mounted below the screen. The result looks to the viewer like a 3D image composed of 100 million "volume pixels" or "voxels".""

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mmmm (3, Funny)

hjf (703092) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728944)

so now I'll finally get to see that Leia message?

Re:mmmm (2, Funny)

Lispy (136512) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730063)

Well, actually you would have seen the whole message if you wouldn't have gone to Toshi station to pick up some power converters. But then again much of your boring life as a moisture farmer would have been quite different and you wouldn't have been killed by a bunch of stormtroopers the day after you found that weird message inside that R2 unit. :)

Actuality Systems website. (5, Informative)

technix4beos (471838) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728955)

You'll find the company here:

Actuality Systems [actuality-systems.com] .

Pictures (flat) (3, Informative)

BoneOfconTroll (876546) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729032)

http://www.actuality-systems.com/index.php/actuali ty/products/photo_gallery [actuality-systems.com] (old-fashioned flat, not 3D)

How does it work? A spinning screen, must be transparent I guess... what's the sci-fi sphere for?

Re:Pictures (flat) (1)

Girckin (831557) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729138)

How does it work? A spinning screen, must be transparent I guess... what's the sci-fi sphere for?

According to the article, the screen spins at 900 RPM. The sphere is probably to keep the noise and air disturbance from the spinning screen down, keep people from sticking their fingers into it, etc.

Pictures? (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728964)

With all these 3D displays coming out it sure would be nice to actually see some pictures of one. No that little CG pic doesn't count.

hmm. (2, Interesting)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728970)

for the same price as one 25 cm 3d display, you can have 4 powermac g5's with dual 30" displays. that's 8 massive displays for the price of one 25 cm goldfish bowl..

In order to make it appealing they'd have to produce it for about 400 $ methinks. and connect it to a telephone :)

Re:hmm. (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729172)

It should also include a digital clock.

Can't get to many of those...

(but they should spend the money on one of those that can keep the time, if it looses power for five seconds. Nothing is cooler that having to reset the watch in the microware oven after you moved it a bit).

Re:hmm. (2, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729309)

yes, but your 8 massive displays still don't display true 3D. cost of two airplanes colliding > $40,000 cost of overradiating someone during cancer treatment > $40,000 cost of misdrilling an industrial 1,000ft oil well > $40,000 some applications just need 3D visualization, and all the processing power and 3D graphic cards and 2D monitors in the world simply won't allow you to effectively participate or utilize those industry applications if you don't have a real 3D visualization system. and stereogoggle systems won't let you walk around the object, unless you're working in a true CAVE environment; and if you're working in a CAVE, well, let's just say that the pricetag is well into the six-figure range by then, what with the need for at least 4 stereo-enabled video projectors, the control application, the tracking hardware, and the stereogoggles. your $400 pricetag shows that you're stuck in the consumer-market mentality. working at a hospital, i can vouch that we regularly buy equipment ranging from $20,000 to well over $1,000,000, (which is the price tag for a CT or MRI scanner). you can buy a used ultrasound scanner for about $40,000. and if we could, we would totally buy one of these things and put it into our reading room and have it be part of our post-processing, pre-surgical workflow procedure. $40,000 for a 3D visualization station to get a quick preview of your surgical target before operating? hells yeah, we would buy it for $40,000. the problem with the Perspecta is that it's not FDA approved yet, so meat-and-potato hospitals aren't allowed to buy it yet.

Re:hmm. (2, Informative)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729436)

Well, true 3d is something we'd all want, I agree with you there. but there are other ways of displaying dimensions, for instance by using perspective and shading.

The airplane scenario does not hold, since current displays in control towers have been shown to be adequate. yes, it is cool to have a 3d image of the skies above, but you'd constantly have to move around the screen to see where it is in all three dimensions.

I have also found that displaying a molecule can be done sufficiently well, by rotating the molecule or by using stereoscopic views.

I seriously doubt that 3d displays will make a serious contribution in hospitals soon, since the images gathered by the equipment are too high in resolution to show and contain too much information in most cases to show in 3d (i.e. an artery blockage is too small to see on a 25 cm rotating display showing a cerebral MR angiography). Especially since the transprarency/depth cannot be set and thus too many arteries will be seen, distracting from that which is important.

What I'd give serious money for is automated highlighting of regions of interest in medical imaging. look at, for instance at the ph.d. thesis of Bart van Ginneken, 2001, Utrecht University.


Plane safety & PS3 (2, Interesting)

Dog135 (700389) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729818)

If you want practical 3D displays for something like an airport, you CAN use stereo goggles along with a trackball to rotate around the y axis. A setup like that would work well sitting at a desk, rather then this setup which would require everone standing around the center of the room, getting in each other's way. (Or each person with their own table to walk around)

Stereo goggles only require 2 3D graphics cards, which can easily be run by a single computer, and they end up giving you more freedom, since you can rotate an object quicker with a knob (or trackball) then you could walking around the display.

So why haven't they done this yet? Price sure isn't an issue. Though the price of reprogramming their systems might.

It may be because they want them to be able to see other stats other then just the view of the planes. But if they give multiple views on a single "screen", then use a device like the Nostromo SpeedPad [thinkgeek.com] to switch between them, then they'd have just as much control as they have now. Left hand on the screen controls, right hand on the rotation knob.

3D technology has been around for a long time. The problem isn't with the hardware, it's with the software. Hopefully, that's why the PS3 has two screen outputs: for 3D graphics in games. (If the PS3 has built in 3D goggle support, I'm getting a 3rd mortgage)

Re:hmm. (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730351)

I've heard this rumour, that, you know, this technology might be in its infancy, and that in the future (this is just a rumour mind), these devices might a) get bigger, b) cost less.

I had a look at one of these once (4, Funny)

BabyDave (575083) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728979)

The lady who was operating it said I'd meet a tall handsome stranger. Luckily she didn't ask me to cross her palm with $40k (that's a heck of a lot of silver).

Re:I had a look at one of these once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729567)

Although she does accept PayPal and credit cards.

Cool, but kind of small (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728983)

I read the atricle, it sounds realy cool. But isn't 12cm kind of small for use in air trafic controll. "sorry, i can't see your blip because it's behind another blip" I think screen flicker isn't as bad of a thing as size.

Re:Cool, but kind of small (1)

mikael (484) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729608)

It's 12.5cm radius, or 25cm diameter. About the same with as a 16" LCD screen. From images of high resolution radar screens [ieee-virtual-museum.org] and displays [wmassociates.com] , they would probably have to double the size of the screen.

But would an air traffic controller want to have to walk around such a display, or would he/she get disorientated, if it could spin around?

Size isn't an issue (2, Informative)

Dog135 (700389) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729674)

Basically, this is just a spinning projecter & screen. To make it bigger, just build it with a bigger screen and brighter projecter. The rest of the hardware and software would remain the same.

As a side note, the flicker probably comes from viewing the back of the screen when it's turned away from the viewer. They need to add a second screen & projector to the back of the first.

So, any guesses on how long before we see "porn bowls" 6 feet high projecting full sized 3D porn?

Re:Size isn't an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729993)

My money's on 37 hours.

Wooow. (2, Funny)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728985)

"At the click of a mouse, the molecule disappears and is replaced by images of two airliners on a collision course."
Just think about it. You can change pictures at the click of a mouse!

Re:Wooow. (1)

kayumi (763841) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729024)

What a great idea. However, I am afraid that it is already patented. So the whole business will be taken over by the patent holder as soon as it makes money.

Re:Wooow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729513)

It is clearly being marketed to Al-Qaeda

Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (3, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 8 years ago | (#12728990)

From the article:
turns at 15 revolutions per second, sweeping out a solid white sphere.

I definitly don't want it until they get up 85 revolutions per second, and probably more. And I thought that 60 was horrible, imagine what 15 Hz would look like.

Re:Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (1)

njcoder (657816) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729016)

"turns at 15 revolutions per second, sweeping out a solid white sphere."

and if you shake it, you get a nice wintery effect

Re:Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (2, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729049)

You can project on both sides of the disk, though. Since one spot gets sweeped by two edges per revolution, that's effectively 30 refreshes per second.

Better than a normal television.

Re:Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729128)

So fast enough for Persistance of Vision, but still a piss poor refresh rate.

Re:Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729594)

What exactly is the benefit of a refresh rate faster than persistane of vision? Does my brain somehow "know" that there's more data there, even though I can't see it?

I know modern multi-sync displays have taught people that higher refresh rates look better (i.e. have less flicker and may be brighter), but that's a limitation of multi-sync displays, not of the lower refresh rate. Multi-sync phosphors are designed to work at up for 120 Hz, and simply do not have the perisistance to stay lit at 60 Hz. Take a look at a good old fixed-frequency monitor sometime and you'll understand.

Being able to support a bunch of input modes is great -- high-end home theater gear all does that. But it also re-process the data to match the limited set of output modes, rather than trying to sync a 42 Hz LCD to a 59.97 Hz signal.

Re:Arrgh, Refresh rate!! (1)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730128)

Your brain sort of does know actually. You can get persistance of vision at a pretty low refresh rate, but things will look a lot smoother if the rate is higher (to a point).

look, but don't touch (2, Funny)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729001)

Like a giant spinning lollipop, the screen, encased in a transparent polycarbonate shell, turns at 15 revolutions per second, sweeping out a solid white sphere.

Just don't forget and reach for the pretty picture. . .

Re:look, but don't touch (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729043)

Hence the protective sphere - it'll be there to protect you, as much as it is to protect the screen.

Re:look, but don't touch (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729082)

> Hence the protective sphere - it'll be there to protect you, as much as it is to protect the screen.

actually, at $40,000 I'm guessing it's there to protect the screen MUCH MORE than to protect you.

Re:look, but don't touch (1)

Pad-Lok (831143) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729299)

Didnt RTFA but it would also make sense if the screen rotated in vacuum, hence the fishbowl.

Re:look, but don't touch (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729303)

Hence the protective sphere - it'll be there to protect you, as much as it is to protect the screen.

Sure. But they're also hoping to raise the spin rate to eliminate flicker... which suggests a flywheel in a vacuum. Wouldn't want to bump that sucker... or be nearby when someone does...

How does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729005)

I read the article, and as far as I understand, the only thing it explains about how this works that the /. excerpt doesn't is that the screen is actually a strip that is rotating fast enough to look like a sphere.

I still can't figure out how this gives the appearance of 3D. Can someone explain this for the physics-challenged?

Re:How does this work? (3, Insightful)

njcoder (657816) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729045)

"I still can't figure out how this gives the appearance of 3D. Can someone explain this for the physics-challenged?

Take a flashlight. Tie a string to the end, go out at night and spint it around really fast by the string. It looks like a circle. That's basically it.

Re:How does this work? (1)

Lifewish (724999) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729459)

Imagine a transparent circular (2d) screen. Orient it vertically, stick a vertical axle down the middle. Spin it very fast. Whenever you want a volume to go green, or whatever, make the part of the screen that passes through that bit of space flash green when it's doing so. So, if you wanted a green horizontal semicircle, you'd make a small square of the screen flash green for half of each resolution.

And stick a goldfish bowl over it so people don't lose fingers. Although I'm wondering if there's a vacuum inside to reduce air friction.

More about the technique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729010)

More can be found about the technique, as described by "To display the image, software inside the Perspecta chops a 3D model generated by the computer into 198 separate pieces, like slices of cake, which are then projected onto the screen" on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Hot damn! (2, Funny)

elgee (308600) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729020)

Now I can see the back of my email messages!

But I will have to mortgage my house to do so.

Re:Hot damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729168)

> But I will have to mortgage my house to do so.

No problem; if you read the front of your message you'll see how you can save up to 15% on your m0rtgage payments!

Slashvertisement ? (2, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729023)

This is hardly new [geek.com] or innovative. I'm pretty sure the company itself has been mentioned before as well.

Projecting images onto a rotating plane or helix [felix3d.com] is old stuff.

Has to remain small scale for now... (3, Insightful)

A Dafa Disciple (876967) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729044)

The product in TFA is only 25cm in diameter, and if the featured image of the display is up to scale, then its display dome is going to be about 20cm in height. I can't imagine the display of this thing can be too good from underneath with the bottom of this device in the way. It is also stated in TFA that, in order for this thing to work, the screen on the inside has to spin at 15 revs/sec.

You can imagine the complexity of this device as it grows in scale. Even having a version of it at double the width and height is going to cause issues in trying to control the stability of all of its components. The velocity of the outermost edge of the screen (closest to the enclosing dome) is going to increase significantly as the device increases in size. All the while, you're creating a tornado within the dome.

I'm afraid that large scale versions of this device are going to be infeasible in functionality, production, and especially cost (this baby version costs 40 grand) as many complications are going to arise.

Re:Has to remain small scale for now... (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729095)

>All the while, you're creating a tornado within the dome.

damn. if only someone could invent a vacuum...

Re:Has to remain small scale for now... (1)

elgatozorbas (783538) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729307)

All the while, you're creating a tornado within the dome.

Unless you suck it vacuum.

Re:Has to remain small scale for now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729773)

You suck it, buddy!

Microsoft Bubbles (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729046)

No more MS windows everyone will be using the new MS Bubbles OS. Unless Micheal Jackson has the copyright for that!!

Re:Microsoft Bubbles (1)

elgee (308600) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729397)

> No more MS windows everyone will be using the new MS Bubbles OS

Oh ducky. Another dimension to exploit and constantly patch.

100 million is too low (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729054)

At least for practical puposes. 100,000,000^(1/3) = about 465 pixels on an edge. That's about on-par with 640x480 on a regular monitor.

I'll stick with my "crappy" 2-dimensional monitor for the time being.

Re:100 million is too low (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729226)

Using the slicing from TFA



700 in z, 700 in r, 198 in theta

Movie (3, Interesting)

panxerox (575545) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729058)

I dont know why it sounds like a jet taking off but heres a
movie [yahoo.com]

Re:Movie (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729111)

pretty crap. not worth even $1000 imo.

what's easier; walking around a display and shouting over that noise, or just rotating an image on a 30" LCD?

Re:Movie (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729468)

If you look, that is because they are INSIDE an aircraft. Dumbass

Old idea, technology not there yet (2, Interesting)

oren (78897) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729078)

I recall reading about such a system in the late 80s or early 90s. It was made by TI and was much more ambitious - think a 2m x 2m x 1m tank used for air traffic control.

This ones looks more practical, even if much less useful. At 15Hz and a mere 200x768x768 pixels, it is requires a mere 1/3GB but a whopping bandwidth of 5GB/s, and the quality is like that of a Dr. Who prop. Scale it up to 512x1048x1048 at 60Hz and you'll need an acceptable 1.5GB of memory but unrealistic 90GB/s memory bandwidth to drive the thing.

While this might be possible to resolve using massively parallel interfaces or something, I bet we'd still need Moore's law to hold for another decade or two before the quality of this type of display can rival that of current 2D ones.

In the meanwhile, this will remain a gimmick or be limited for very special applications where the low quality is acceptable (hint: this probably rules out medical applications :-)

Re:Old idea, technology not there yet (1)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729264)

Actually, it's primary focus *is* medical applications. True 3D visualization is notoriously hard to achieve. And your cheap $400 '3D' video cards aren't cutting it. That 2D monitor is still displaying information in 2D, no matter what kind of '3D' video card you're using. The problem is all in the hardware interface... whether it be stereogoggles or fishbowl monitors; there has to be a physical display capable of projecting images in 3D. This product is quite useful, in it's present form, as a medical research tool. It does what it does rather well. The problem is that it's not FDA approved yet, and so can't be used at your standard meat-and-potatoes hospital. But it does already have DICOM compatible software applications written for it for viewing 3D medical data sets obtained from CT and MRI scanners.

Re:Old idea, technology not there yet (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729379)

There goes the hospital bills, straight through the roof!

At least you know what you are paying for, especially for such a cool system as this, instead of bedpans and oxygen lines by the foot.

Re:Old idea, technology not there yet (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729744)

There goes the hospital bills, straight through the roof!

Not necessarily -- if the use of this display prevents one $40,000 medical mistake, then it's already paid for itself. If it also prevents the $500,000 malpractice lawsuit that would have sprung from that mistake, then it's reduced your hospital bills dramatically.

Re:Old idea, technology not there yet (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730206)

if the use of this display prevents one $40,000 medical mistake,

If. There is no practical advantage too it. It's just cool. I don't want to have to walk around my 3D objects when I'm working. That's slow and tiring. I would rather just spin them around on my screen. Much faster and more efficient. Depth can be simulated with sequential field stereo and shutter glasses or two displays like with a HMD. There are also autostereo LCDs and projectors which are even more practical, although a bit more expensive.

Re bandwidth (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729694)

Put the video processing in the device itself and develop a 3d language (opengl?) to allow the main computer to describe what's to be displayed.

Plus you only have to send what is to be displayed, empty space doesn't need to be sent or held in memory.

Re:Old idea, technology not there yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729816)

Your numbers assume they are rendering the WHOLE 3D image every frame...? It is more likely the computer renders a 2D slice of the image, then kicks it over to this thing at 15 fps. Not exactly difficult and no where near 5GB/s.
Whitepaper here [actuality-systems.com]

Modelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729079)

This type of display could revolutionise the way we do 3d modelling. With 3d controllers you could model as you would with clay.

Re:Modelling (1)

karstux (681641) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729614)

...or you could model with clay and take a 3d scan of it.

Re:Modelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12730220)

Wow. Good idea. That would save A LOT of money.

It's like a lathe... (2, Funny)

TheCulturedRedneck (871502) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729090)

A spinning display will finally justify our IT depts aversion to neck-ties. Now if we can just find a good excuse for hygeine...

What goes up... (1)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729136)

Kinda reminds me of the early televisions, with the huge spinning color wheel.

But when you become entranced by the image floating in space in front of you, and then slowly reach your hand forward to touch it, you'll be glad that you're standing around zoning out on a million dollar 3D flipbook with a half dozen neurosurgeons.

OK, I want one of these (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729152)

But can't afford it yet, so... *Everyone*, show this technology to your CEOs and CIOs. Use some visuallisation bullshit to get them to buy some of them.

Then when the price comes down to a reasonable level we'll all be able to get one.

Didnt we see this last year? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729169)

If i remember right, it was about a year or so ago that this company started getting press for their 'upcoming' product.

Was mostly just a spinning disk inside a globe to 'simulate' 3D.

*Ancient* news (1)

Snowhare (263311) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729278)

I remember seeing descriptions of rotating projection plane 3d systems more than a decade ago in magazines.

If someone want to "wow" me, set up a system based on multiple scanning lasers in a transparent medium where two or more beams intersecting cause the medium either to glow or to become opaque depending on the combination of beams intersecting and the non-linear optical properties of the medium.

*That* would be cool.

Pros & Cons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729345)

Based on the actual product's website [actuality-systems.com] , I think this is a way cool device with some Pros and some Cons.

Looks really neat. Seems right out of sci fi.
Could really be useful, especially with med imaging.

Too small
Too expensive
Glass sphere seems too glossy and reflective.
apparently only 'glowy', translucent, laser-light-like images can be produced.
Big spinning piece inside: wear and tear? noise factor?

3D Games (1)

ptimmons (235569) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729522)

Tetris just got a lot harder.

Re:3D Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12730359)

That would be easier. Have you never played blockout? The 2d projection of a 3d game is a serious handicap.


sammyo (166904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729540)

The Boston Chapter of SIGGRAPH http://boston.siggraph.org/ [siggraph.org] had a 'factory visit' last year. Very cool tech, nice very smart folks. The main problem is display bus bandwidth, if you start cubing the required data over any existing wire the technology just does not exist yet.

4D? (1)

LS (57954) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729619)

We can project a 3 dimensional object onto a two dimensional plane (a standard monitor), and get a good idea of what the object would look like if it was in 3D. I've seen animations of 4D objects on a 2D display, and I just don't grok the nature of the objects. If someone writes a visualization that projects a 4D object onto this 3D display, will it be much easier for the average person to grasp and understand?


Re:4D? (1)

Luke-Jr (574047) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729742)

If you want to get technical, this display is 4D and existing monitors are 3D. Current monitors have 3 dimentions: width, height, and time This thing has 4 dimentions: width, height, time, and depth

Re:4D? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12730075)

He means 4 spacial dimensions... he's thinking of things like *this* [dogfeathers.com] .

Currently you see a perspective drawing of a (3D) perspective drawing of a four-dimensional geometric object. It's a bit hard to wrap your brain around that.

Time *can* be used as another dimension to aid visualization, but it's a little tricky to see how things are connected sometimes. Also, if you want to be picky, relativity says the time dimension behaves differently than the others... distance is negative in it. This makes rotations in time into Lorentz transforms, which is not what you're looking for.

Volumetric display without rotation (2, Interesting)

geordieboy (515166) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729623)

Here's an idea. Instead of providing a surface to scatter off by rotating a surface in space, fill a vessel full of some gas and focus two lasers at the point you want to scatter the light. Arrange for the freqencies of the two beams to add up to the frequency of a transition from the ground state of the atoms in the gas to an excited state. Photons should be produced where the beams intersect. Then you could make an image by just scanning through the volume intersecting the beams in a grid. Conceivably color could be provided with a mixture of gases and various lasers.

Re:Volumetric display without rotation (1)

ikkedus (883228) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729937)

@geordieboy They do exist. And as with the perspecta the first patents of these devices date from about a century ago. They can be found using google searching for 'volumetric display'. But a serious problem with the image in all those volumetric devices, however, is that it is transparent, severely limiting what you can use it for. It's like watching things in wire frame. This is OK for a cube, but it gets difficult when you try to decipher images that are more complex. Also, different colors seem to appear at slightly different depths, even if they're in the same a plane. My guess is that these are not very convenient for watching pr0n.

Re:Volumetric display without rotation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12730178)

Hmm... the frequencies don't add the way you think they do. You'd want a large array of beams, all of the same frequency, and you would focus them on one point, with the phases adjusted so they constructively interfere. This would have the side effect of slightly activating other "voxels", but if you had enough beams it wouldn't be severe. While you're at it, you could use fluorescence instead of the process you're describing, which I *think* would work better.

In addition, with the method you're suggesting, you might have to worry about polarization of the light, because an excited state with angular momentum isn't spherically symmetric, so it won't release a photon in every direction with equal probability.

Texas Instruments has shown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12729798)

...something like that some 10 years ago...

Sega's Hologram Time Traveler (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729867)

Anyone else remember this game from the early 90's? It featured a time traveling cowboy that appeared to be 3d because the video was projected on a parabolic mirror with a dark filter.

Good Approach, Wrong Implementation (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 8 years ago | (#12729983)

Granted this thing will be viewable by more than one individual at a time, but has was posted before this thing will have like 640x480 2D resolution max. I'd rather my Doctor look at Mega-Pixel image slices individually than make do with this crude imaging. My prediction: devices like this will only be good for walk around advertisements in crowded public areas.

My BETTER suggestion/solution: a screen than can be gimbaled 360 degrees in the horizontal and 90 degrees in the vertical. Project 2 polarized HIGH-resolution images on it for high-resolution stereo imaging (only a cheep pair of polarized glasses required for viewing). Now track the head of the viewer with an infrared beacon worn on the user's head and automatically swivel the display to be perpendicular. Display the appropriate image pair at whatever frame rate you wish.

I have seen near VR systems that track your head with a pole to accomplish the same effect, but only at a fixed distance and not a full 360. Head tracking in my suggestion could be accomplished at a variety of qualities.
1. 360 tracking only (no need to gimbal in the vertical).
2. Gimbal in both horizontal and vertical, but assume a constant distance (just track the head's direction from infrared beacon). Note: if there ins't a need to actually peer directly down on the object then no vertical gimbal would be needed. Vertical adjustments could be made from head tracking and image adjust for a reasonable range of angles, certainly upto 45 degrees.
3. Detect distance to head also with some kind of ranging based on the infrared beacon, adjusting the stereo pairs to maintain proper parallax.
4. Track head tilt with a tilt detector in the infrared beacon's housing, modulate this information into the beam so the image pair can also take head tilt into account in maintaining proper parallax for stereo viewing.
5. If you want to get really exotic you could track eye accommodation (focus), you would then have lenses counter adjust focus to keep optimum focus on the screen's actual location, then have the computer blur those parts of the 3D image not at the focus distance detected.

Two doctors consulting on one 3D image set -- two viewers. This method would be orders of magnitude cheaper for any given resolution. P.S. if anybody wants to run with the ball on my suggestions I wouldn't mind a kickback. Though in all likely hood all my suggestions are probably already being worked on in the lab.

Re:Good Approach, Wrong Implementation (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730251)

MIT is working on something much cooler
http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,115975,0 0.asp [pcworld.com]

The article is light on facts, but the way that I've heard it is that they're researching ways using eye tracking cameras and a layer of LCD light deflectors to "aim" images at individual eyes. You don't need glasses or a head tracking beacon, as all of that is done automatically. You can walk around the front of the screen and get the right perspective. If you really needed to walk all the way around something you could put three or four of these back-to-back.

Supposedly it works, but that the tech is too slow for consumer-grade apps currently and it only works for one person at a time, with a multi-person version in the works. Again, the limitation isn't in the design, but how fast you can update the LCD adjusters and the image.

Smoke and mirrors .. (1)

pecko666 (684783) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730050)

This technology is nothin new.
It was already used during WW2 - but instead of projector, there was single light beam to the mirror, so it was capable to display only simplistic vector graphic. But the idea was the same.
And with this technology you surely can NOT see any image when you are looking from top at this spere (as stated in the article). You will see only upper side of revolving mirror.

totally usless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12730061)

What scientist wants to walk half way around just to be able to see the back of something? I think in practice they will just use a mouse to rotate the thing so they don't have to get out of their chair, in which case why not use a regular flat 3d or even 2d display? Also for meetings or times when there are multiple people around a display, they will be all be seeing it from different viewpoints, not the best thing to have happen, wouldn't it be more effective to also use a regular flat 3d display for this also? I mean this is cool technology and all, and it would be cool to have a 3d fishbowl but it just seems like a waste of money. Also keep in mind this is 15 fps at low res, i hope they have some eye drops on hand.

My idea of shared 3D display (1)

Thagg (9904) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730102)

OK, it's kind of wacky, but here's the scheme. The screen is just a flat piece of Scotchlite. This is a remarkable material that reflects almost all light directly back to where it came from. Obviously, this is just part of the scheme.

The other part is the wacky goggles. These have projectors mounted above them with tiny LCD or OLED screens that project down through half-silvered 45 degree mirrors in front of each eye.

So, the light from the projector is as if it's coming straight out of your pupil, and so reflects back right at each pupil. This way, each eye gets only its own image.

To make this work well, you'd have to get some kind of head tracker as well, to move the image as you move your head.

The nice thing about this is that you could have multiple people viewing the same screen, and so sharing the experience.

The devestating problem with the perspecta display is that there cannot be hidden surfaces, not a problem for this (or any other) goggle based system.

The bandwidth problem of the perspecta display comes from needing to display an image from all points of view -- even though 99% of those points of view don't actually have anybody viewing them. Goggle based systems don't have that problem.

But! If you wanted to have a shared goggle-free environment and had a large amount of money, you could do that too! You'd want to have a very large half-silvered mirror with many projectors above it -- enough so that from any point in the field of view you could have a projector more or less lined up with each viewer.

Anyway -- back to reality.


Just rotate a 2d image. (1)

chachacha (833677) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730135)

Sorry for being dense, but can anyone explain why this is so much better than just rotating the image in 2d space to see the back end of the object? Seems like you're just introducing a whole lot of other variables that could contribute to failure, like how long will the motor that spins the thing last? That fact (coupled with the likely non-replaceability of the hardware) would lead me to think it has no business in mission critical dispay.

Also, where would a company put such a thing? It certainly wouldn't do any good sitting on my desk - you'd have to have a dedicated 'analysis' room with this thing sitting on a little desk all by it's lonesome.

Why are we all so negative? (1)

Alric (58756) | more than 8 years ago | (#12730310)

I don't understand all of these negative posts. This equipment is obviously still in the very early stages of development and impractical for most people.

This is an extremely common pattern in technology. A new product comes out and is only useful in a few niche markets, often analysing the very important (medicine), very small (molecules), or the very large (climate). Eventually the product matures and becomes useful to the larger society.

I am delighted that people are working on 3D displays; I certainly don't want to working on a freakin plasma or LCD screen in 30 years.

I imagine how many of these posters would have reacted to inventions in the past. "WOOOW, a device that adds numbers? Why would anyone spend $20000 on this 'computer' when you can just add the numbers in your head? These machines are lame."
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