WASHINGTON, April 25 -- A novel system for dynamically projecting 3-D holographic images using digital micromirror devices (DMDs) has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern). Their findings, recently published in Optics Express, a journal of the Optical Society of America, represent a significant advance in holographic projection that could have an impact on aviation, medicine, security and television.
The UT Southwestern research team -- Michael L. Huebschman, Bala Munjuluri and Harold R. Garner -- recognized that true holographic projection that is dynamic and digitally driven could form the basis of future scientific and commercial visualization systems. The team found that such dynamic holographic projection was achievable using an off-the-shelf digital light processing (DLP) micromirror system developed by Texas Instruments, a technology that is widely used in laptop projectors to project the image onto a wall or screen.
They first constructed a system that projects true dynamic 3-D holographic images from computer-generated holograms using the diffracted light from a laser-illuminated DMD. Then they demonstrated the utility of the DMD as a 3-D holographic medium by producing virtual and real 3-D images at finite distances. Their ultimate goal is to create a real-time, multicolor projection system for all digital holograms that uses existing computer equipment.
The researchers said the technology could be quickly adapted for use in airports and the medical and entertainment fields: Airport screeners will be able to view x-ray images of luggage and packages in 3-D, revealing their entire contents; doctors could view an x-ray of a broken leg in 3-D without having to move the patient or take multiple x-rays. In the entertainment industry, 3-D hologram games will be the most likely near-term application, but 3-D television won't be far behind, they said.
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