(PhysOrg.com) -- Any fan of Star Trek knows about the joys of the holodeck. The idea of a 3D, 360-degree immersive digital environment, projected on demand, is an enticing one that has thus far been confined to the silver screen, but technologies are emerging that just may make this possible. In 2008 Physorg reported on a 3D fog display on a room-sized scale, but it could not give a 360 degree experience. New developments in this area may make this possible at some point in the future.
Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have made a 3D and 360-degree display that projects from a variety of different angles onto a cylindrical fog display. This combination of multiple-point of view projectors and the cylinder allows for a display that is 3D no matter what side you view it from, though in order to get a holodeck style of projection a much larger set of projectors, and a lot more fog, would need to be on hand. In order to project into the one cylinder of fog, it took three projectors. So for now, don't expect to be able to get your virtual playground on for at least a few more years, since a system like this would undoubtedly be expensive to install and maintain.
The researchers expect that at some unnamed time in the future the technology will have applications in both the entertainment and health care arenas. As is usually the case with experimental prototypes there is no word yet on when we can expect to see these 360, 3D displays in use, in the real world, so don't hold your breath.
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