The Holodeck: Is It Next?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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The Holodeck: Is It Next?

While we've all been staring, enrapt, at the Oculus Rift for some time now and thinking that, indeed, this has to be the future of gaming that we're staring at right here. It has to be! It's virtual reality! But even with virtual reality, there was one other field that we literally never dared to dream about, and that's holography. Yes, the thought of a virtual reality system that required no headpieces or anything else but an empty room in which to operate was what we were working toward all along, and a new report of a graphics company called Otoy suggests that we may be closer to that holodeck than anyone expected.

Otoy released a new system, known as the ORBX, that allows users to capture a setting with a standard mobile device camera, and then from there, send that information to the cloud, where it's properly encoded. The encoding in turn allows video producers to create a 360 degree view based on video still shots, which can in turn eventually reach the level of holographic video.

Naturally, this doesn't mean we have a holodeck on our hands. For one, we don't have the necessary projector technology to create hard-light simulacra of items that can be touched and otherwise interacted with. But word from Rod Roddenberry—son of Gene Roddenberry, creator of “Star Trek”--suggests that this is the kind of software that will be needed to create the video that can be shot into the holodeck. In the short term, this is also set to be the kind of video that will offer impressive new special effects, and improvements to a great many kinds of physical marketing and advertising media as well.

This is very much a good news / bad news sort of situation, the kind of thing that can be effectively looked at as both a disappointment and a terrific advancement all in one handy package. See, it's a great development; this is the software that's probably going to be needed—after a few generations and some refinements, of course—to actually drive the holodeck in the first place.

It's kind of bizarre, to consider ourselves going from virtual reality right to the holodeck, but we don't have to worry about ORBX cannibalizing the Oculus Rift market, because it's likely to be a goodish while before we're in a position to put ORBX to use even in major commercial enterprises. Still, though, the groundwork has been laid, and that's an exciting enough development for just about anyone. It's likely only a matter of time before our movies and video games go to complete holography, which may well serve to put some life back in the movie theater again, not to mention what might happen if holography goes to the home market.