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The Holodeck Begins to Take Shape

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Star Trek's holodeck.

Some scientists and researchers anticipate simulated-reality rooms like the holodecks seen on "Star Trek" could be available as soon as 2024.

Credit: Subspace Communique

Holodecks similar to the simulated-reality rooms seen on "Star Trek" could be available by 2024, according to some scientists and researchers.

Computer companies, Hollywood, and video-game makers want to move entertainment closer to reality by enabling users to see things and allow people to move around their living rooms and become part of the story. The technology could enable gamers to step inside a computer-simulated Yankee Stadium, for example, and pick up a computer-simulated bat and hear the roar of a computer-simulated crowd.

Advanced Micro Devices has built a version of a holodeck that is shaped like a dome, covered with wall-to-wall projectors, and uses surround sound, augmented reality, and other technologies to recreate the real world.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has created a floor, called an omnidirectional treadmill, that enables users to seemingly wander while it moves but they stay in place.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has built the IllumiRoom and Lightspace, while the University of Illinois at Chicago has created CAVE2.

Gaming appears to be the driving technology that could disrupt the TV market and business travel, and cause users to prefer life in a virtual world. "Our desire for more realistically spattered blood seems to be our saving grace in terms of keeping Moore's Law going," says futurist Brad Templeton.

From The New York Times
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