New technology could make Princess Leia’s Star Wars hologram a reality

"In principle you would be able to move your head around the display, rotate your head in any direction, and still see a 3D image"

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Star Wars fans, the force may soon be with you. Scientists have revealed they are developing the technology for 3D hologram displays light enough to work on mobile phones.

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Fans of the famous Princess Leia projection seen in the original 1977 Star Wars film will be excited to hear that researchers at the Hewlett-Packard Labs in California have created a glasses-free, 3D display that could mimic Carrie Fisher’s hologram.

The display enables images that appear in 3D to be viewed from different angles by building a transparent screen with tiny light emitting diodes (LEDs) around the edges. Light rays aimed towards the centre will encounter pixels that steer the light out of the screen, with a prototype of the device sending light in 14 different directions. While that is too few to provide a smooth 3D effect, a more sophisticated system is being devised which will send out light at 64 different angles. 

“In principle you would be able to move your head around the display, rotate your head in any direction, and still see a 3D image, much like what you see in Star Wars, with the famous hologram of Princess Leia,” said David Fattal who worked on creating the technology. 

“If you were to display a 3D image of planet Earth with the north pole facing out of the screen, by turning your head around the display you’d be able to have a view of any country on the globe.”

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Raymond Beausoleil, who also acted as a researcher on the project, added, “Perhaps in the not-so-distant future it could make its way to smartphones, smart watches and tablets.”