Full-circle viewing: 360-degree electronic holographic display

October 18, 2016

WASHINGTON -- Princess Leia, your Star Wars hologram moment may be redeemed.

In the original 'Star Wars' movie, the inviting but grainy special effects hologram might soon be a true full-color, full-size holographic image, due to advances by a South Korean research team refining 3-D holographic displays.

The team described a novel tabletop display system that allows multiple viewers to simultaneously view a hologram showing a full 3-D image as they walk around the tabletop, giving complete 360-degree access. The paper was published this week in the journal Optics Express, from The Optical Society (OSA).

To be commercially feasible in a range of applications -- from medicine to gaming to media -- the hologram challenge is daunting. It involves scaling an electronic device to a size small enough to fit on a table top, while making it robust enough to render immense amounts of data needed to create a full-surround 3-D viewing experience from every angle -- without the need for special glasses or other viewing aids.

"In the past, researchers interested in holographic display systems proposed or focused on methods for overcoming limitations in the combined spatial resolution and speed of commercially available, spatial light modulators. Representative techniques included space-division multiplexing (SDM), time-division multiplexing (TDM) and combination of those two techniques," explained Yongjun Lim, of the 5G Giga Communication Research Laboratory, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, South Korea. Lim and his team took a different approach. They devised and added a novel viewing window design.

To implement such a viewing window design, close attention had to be paid to the optical image system. "With a tabletop display, a viewing window can be created by using a magnified virtual hologram, but the plane of the image is tilted with respect to the rotational axis and is projected using with two parabolic mirrors," Lim explained. "But because the parabolic mirrors do not have an optically-flat surface, visual distortion can result. We needed to solve the visual distortion by designing an aspheric lens."

Lim further noted, "As a result, multiple viewers are able to observe 3.2-inch size holograms from any position around the table without visual distortion."

Building on these advances, Lim's team hopes to implement a key design feature of strategically sizing the viewing window so it is closely related to the effective pixel size of the rotating image of the virtual hologram. Watching through this window, observers' eyes are positioned to accept the holographic image light field because the system tilts the virtual hologram plane relative to the rotational axis. To enhance the viewing experience the team hopes to design a system in which observers can see 3.2-inch holographic 3-D images floating on the surface of the parabolic mirror system at a rate of 20 frames per second.

Test results of the system using a 3-D model and computer-generated holograms were promising -- though right now still in a monochrome green color. Next, the team wants to produce a full-color experience and resolve issues related to undesirable aberration and brightness mismatch among the four digital micromirror devices used in the display.

"We are developing another version of our system to solve those issues and expect to have the next model in the near future, including enhancement of the color expression," said Lim. "Many people expect that high quality holograms will entertain them in the near future because visualizations are increasingly sophisticated and highly imaginative due to the use of computer-aided graphics and recently-developed digital devices that provide augmented or virtual reality."

And the Princess Leia hologram? That old miniature was a motivating experience of their work, Lim explained.
Collaborators on the project include colleagues from the Department of Electronics and Information Engineering, Korea University, and the School of Electronics Engineering, Kyungpook National University, South Korea.

Paper: Yongjun Lim, Keehoon Hong, Hwi Kim, Hyun-Eui Kim, Eun-Young Chang, Soohyun Lee, Taeone Kim, Jeho Nam, Hyon-Gon Choo, Jinwoong Kim, and Joonku Hahn, "360-degree tabletop electronic holographic display," Optics Express 24, 24999-25009 (2016). DOI: 10.1364/OE.24.024999

About Optics Express

Optics Express reports on new developments in all fields of optical science and technology every two weeks. The journal provides rapid publication of original, peer-reviewed papers. It is published by The Optical Society and edited by Andrew M. Weiner of Purdue University. Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at: OSA Publishing.

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org/100.

Media Contacts:

Rebecca B. Andersen
The Optical Society
+1 202.416.1443

Joshua Miller
The Optical Society
+1 202.416.1435

The Optical Society

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