In my recent research into virtual performance simulations, I've ended conference presentations, my upcoming book chapter, and my thesis with some measured forecasts of the cool technology likely just over the horizon — in digital re/animation, projection systems, and artificial intelligence — all the while keeping in mind that technology forecasts tend to become outdated if not entirely quaint within hours of utterance. This week, however, brought very exciting news that sent me gleefully diving into some revisions.
Princess Leias and 2.0Pacs, I give you: the Ostendo Quantum Photonic Imager.
Expected to ship next summer with 2-D capability and by the end of 2015 with 3-D, the QPI brings hologram projection/simulation from the concert stage down to the palm of your hand. Created by Ostendo Technologies (in Carlsabad, Calif., my back yard) this new mini-projector — "roughly the size of Tic Tacs, powered by a computer chip that can control the color, brightness and angle of each beam of light across one million pixels" — is purported to feature full, mid-air "holographic capability," according to The WSJ.
The QPI allegedly features impressive power, projecting 5,000-dpi images at 48-inches diagonally, all from a unit that's half a cubic centimeter, according to another report.
It's interesting news to show up the same week Amazon released a lily-white teaser video about a June 18 announcement of what's probably going to be their own holographic phone display — though it's a holographic simulation within the usual phone screen, using four cameras to track eye movement as a way to generate parallax in the view. (Cue Rockwell: I always feel like my phone is watching me ...)
Screens, schmeens. That WSJ story features a superb sentence, summing one of the core themes of my research: "The race to disrupt the screen is intensifying as both upstarts and technology giants try to find new ways to bring content to life." That's the future of HCI — bringing content to life, literally, off screen, off keyboard. Bring it.
I'm THOMAS CONNER, communication researcher and culture journalist.