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Communications of the ACM


Holographic Projection Systems Provide Eternal Life

holographic image of Michael Jackson

A holographic image of Michael Jackson performs onstage during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, nearly five years after the pop star's death.

When actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died unexpectedly in February, he still had at least a week of filming left on Mockingjay, the third and fourth installments of the wildly successful Hunger Games movie series. Luckily Hoffman, like other deceased entertainers before him, including rapper Tupac Shakur and singers Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley, has the potential to live on and charm new audiences through the use of so-called 3D holographic projection systems.

Holography is a technique for recording the wavefront of a 3D scene on a 2D image, according to Ting-Chung Poon, a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Technical Institute. "Dating back a few decades, the process can only be conducted through optical means by mixing the object wave with a reference beam, and recording the resulting fringe pattern on a photographic film," Poon and colleague P.W.M. Tsang wrote in the 2013 paper Review on Theory and Applications of Wavefront Recording Plane Framework in Generation and Processing of Digital Holograms. "With the rapid advancement of computing technologies in recent years, the optical hologram formation mechanism can be simulated with numerical means."


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