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Communications of the ACM


Floating Voxels Provide New Hope for 3D Displays

Princess Leia hologram

Credit: Perspectiva

Few movie scenes have had such an effect on display-technology research and development as the droid R2D2 projecting a three-dimensional (3D) image of Princess Leia pleading for help in 1977's block-buster film Star Wars. Numerous engineers have wondered just how they might achieve that effect, of an image you can see from any angle, in real life. Even The Walt Disney Company, which bought Lucasfilm and the distribution rights for the movie franchise in 2012, is among those with engineers working on the idea.

Two years ago, Daniel Joseph and colleagues in entertainment giant Disney's Burbank, CA-based research and development operation filed for a patent on a projector intended to display floating 3D images. The U.S. patent points to an anticipated implementation of having the 3D image seem to be standing on an illuminated pedestal, similar to the game table on the Millennium Falcon that appears in a scene later in Star Wars.


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