Miku fans may have disparaged the international press for insisting on calling Hatsune Miku a hologram, but it seems they were only a few months too early – Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has shown a table-top 3D hologram of the virtual diva dancing and singing.
NICT’s “fVisiOn” research group call this a “floating 3D standing image” (whether this qualifies as a true hologram is not clear but it is certainly close to what most would understand from the term), boasting that the display can be viewed by multiple people from any angle without glasses or similar lame accessories.
Researcher Dr. Shunsuke Yoshida gives plenty of details about the project he rather cannily chose to exhibit using Miku, although sadly he is silent as to just how low a viewing angle the technology allows:
fVisiOn is a novel glasses-free tabletop 3D display. The developed novel technique can float standing 3D image on a blank flat tabletop surface, and allow multiple viewers to observe the 3D from omnidirection of 360° in seated condition. It is designed to be a friendly interface for multiple users for varied tabletop tasks by featuring our glasses-free method and observation style.
For generation of the 3D images, fVisiOn employs a newly developed special optical device as a screen and a series of micro projectors arranged circularly. The combination of those devices reproduces a light field in a certain volume on the table.
The light field represents a bunch of directional rays radiated from surfaces of objects which are assumed to be on the table. The light field of our method is optimized for observing in seated condition. In other words, the fVisiOn’s viewing area occupies an oblique position above the table.
Additionally, our entire 3D imaging mechanism is installed underneath the table. It keeps the tabletop area clear and does not disturb collaborative work and natural communications. For example, fVisiOn can display virtual 3D images beside printed documents and physical mock-ups.
The developed system is a prototype to validate a 3D generation principle we proposed. It employs a conical-shaped optical device and 96 projectors, and covers the viewing area of approximately 120° around the table, though it is 1/3 of ideal implementation. This primal prototype can float the 3D images of a height of approximately 5 cm on the tabletop surface like a centerpiece in the center of the table.
A dancing tabletop Miku may not be so far away.