The Future is Holographic Television

The other day I was playing a little game on steemit where I would try to think of cool possible usernames and see if somebody was using them and what their blog was about. One of the names I thought of was alientech. That account actually existed and for a brief moment I was hopeful that I stumbled on a cool and/or weird blog. It was only one post about cryptocurrency but it had quality so it wasn't a complete disappointment. @alientech hasn't blogged in awhile but I subscribed hoping @alientech will eventually return to blog some more.

Lucky for me I was able to get the coolest username on steemit. Don't pretend like @holovision isn't cool because you won't fool me. Sooner or later someone is going to do to me what I did to @alientech but since I'll be actively blogging they'll be able to ask me directly why I call myself Holovision but blog most of the time about television. Well, it is my Gallifreyan name. Also, it's because holographic televisions are still in the laboratories. Holovision screens will be commercially available soon enough so there's no need to worry.

Let's look at some of the progress that has been made so far by brilliant scientists and talented engineers....

Holographic television has been a practical goal ever since the late professor Stephen Benton of M.I.T. built the first experimental holographic video display. The main problem has always been processing power. Due to accelerating computer technology that is becoming less of a problem. The larger problem now is storage and transmission of the information.

Without knowing the specific format a future holovision set in a living room would be based on we can only make rough estimations of the amount of data involved.

The frame rate for conventional video is around 30 fps. It can be argued that 30 fps is not the limit for the human eye and future experimentation may lead industry to adopt a different frame rate for holographic TV. Thirty is just the estimated frame rate for the purposes of this blog post.

OK. If I try to explain voxels and hogels to an average reader this blog will run way too long so let's stick with the mindset of pixels except each holographic TV pixel would be much, much smaller than a television pixel. That comparison is technically very bad because a holographic pixel is functionally different from a TV pixel but let's go with it. A hologram is rather high resolution in comparison with what the average person has experience with.

A single hologram contains tens of Gigabytes if not a minimum terabyte of information. Now multiply that by thirty and you have one second of holographic television. Multiply that by 60 and you have a minute long holographic commercial. Multiply that by 23 and you have a holographic episode. We're easily getting into a single episode of The Simpsons displayed holographically being petabytes in size. Ay caramba!

Transmiting and storing can be overcome with further advances in technology.

Listed below is what I believe are the most promising current developments based on internet research. No Batman I have not been perusing for data in order to plot a hologram-themed crime. Unlike the last time when I said that and it turned out I was lying this time I am honestly not planning a single hologram-themed crime in Gotham.

HP "Directional Pixels"

An HP Labs modification of off-the-shelf LCD screens with "nanopatterned grooves" to create holographic display screens. Viewers can walk around the projected image and experience an image or video from as many 200 different viewpoints.

MEMS Semiconductor Pixels

Researchers at the European firm Imec grow a layer of silicon oxide onto a silicon wafer. After etching away square patches of the silicon oxide to create a checkerboard-like pattern. Finally, the entire chip was then topped with a reflective coating of aluminum. The pattern etched allows microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) to pull down or release each pixel by applying or removing a voltage. When light from a laser shines on the chip the light is bounced off the boundary between adjacent pixels at an angle. This diffracted laser light interferes constructively and destructively creating a hologram.


Using an array of regular cameras in which each camera views a different perspective; the camera information is encoded onto a fast-pulsed laser beam as an object beam. The object beam then interferes with another beam that serves as a reference beam. a holographic image is recorded on a screen of photorefractive polymer created by researchers at the University of Arizona. After two seconds a new image can be recorded on the screen.

MIT’s Object-Based Media Group

In 2011 MIT’s Object-Based Media Group took tunable crystals and MacGyvered a Kinect camera to capture three-dimensional data to create holographic video. Later they've decided that creating a chip that can handle 50 gigapixels a second is the new cyberpunk. This is far better than the 8.3 megapixels of 4K Ultra HDTV.

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