Friday, December 7, 2012

Holograms: Will Apple Do It Right

Remember when tablet computers seemed like the stuff of science fiction? Or how about smart phones? There was a time when phones that allowed you to surf the Web and send e-mail messages sounded like the technology of the future. Now these are the technologies of the present. So what's next? Ben Kunz, a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, has his own prediction: holograms.


Apple and holograms


Kunz predicts that Apple devices—its iPhones and iPads—will soon display holograms that look like something you'd see in a contemporary science fiction film. In fact, Kunz's story on Bloomberg Businessweek is accompanied by a photo of Robert Downey Jr. from the 2012 hit movie The Avengers using his own nifty holograms. Again, this may appear to be the stuff of fiction, but Kunz writes that he's basing his prediction on real news: Apple's patents and recent purchases. Then there's the competition in the tablet industry. Apple needs something to help set it apart from its tablet competitors. Holograms may very well be that thing.


Apple's plans


So how exactly could interactive holograms be created?  Using forward-facing cameras the user’s eyes could be tracked and a screen that projects beams of light could be used to create different angles of the object. This could create a very realistic hologram that will maintain its visual integrity.


The future of 3D?


What’s the greatest issue with 3D holograms? 3D technology has so far failed to capture the imagination of consumers. Kunz writes that the sale of 3D TV sets have been slow. Even games like Nintendo's 3DS handheld system, which don't require players to put on 3D glasses, have seen lukewarm sales. So why would Apple invest heavily in the technology to generate holograms? Apple seems to have a history of taking failed ideas and making them become successful. This goes all the way back to the times when Apple took the idea for the mouse from Xerox, made it more efficient, and saw sales soar. Apple also debuted its iPhone and iPad devices long after Microsoft first attempted to introduce a pen-based tablet PC that never quite caught on. Also, Apple's 3D holograms will be different. They'll be far more realistic, and they won't call for users to wear 3D glasses to view them. So what’s the message here? Get prepared for holograms. Once Apple's programmers get moving on a technology, they seldom misfire.

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