A research team led by Susumu Tachi from the University of Tokyo has developed a rotating panoramic display that immerses viewers in a 3D video environment. The Telexistence Wide-angle Immersive STEReoscope, or TWISTER, is the world's first full-color 360-degree 3D display that does not require viewers to wear special glasses, says professor Tachi, who has spent over 10 years researching and developing the device.
Inside the 1.2 meter (4 ft) tall, 2 meter (6.5 ft) wide cylindrical display are 50,000 LEDs arranged in columns. As the display rotates around the observer's head at a speed of 1.6 revolutions per second, these specially arranged LED columns show a slightly different image to each of the observer's eyes, thus creating the illusion of a 3D image. In other words, TWISTER tricks the eye by exploiting what is known as "binocular parallax" -- the apparent difference in position of an object as seen separately by the left eye and the right eye.
For now, TWISTER is capable of serving up pre-recorded 3D video from a computer, allowing viewers to experience things like virtual amusement park rides or close-up views of molecular models. However, the researchers are working to develop TWISTER's 3D videophone capabilities by equipping it with a camera system that can capture real-time three-dimensional images of the person inside, which can then be sent to another TWISTER via fiber optics. In this way, two people separated by physical distance will be able to step into their TWISTERs to enjoy real-time 3D virtual interaction.
However, given TWISTER's size, the first order of business might be to figure out how to fit it through your front door.
When light passes through material such as glass, a portion of its energy is lost as it reflects off the material's surface. Researchers at Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) have come up with a theoretical design for preventing this phenomenon from occurring.
The researchers have designed a prism of engineered material -- metamaterial comprised of an arrangement of nano-coils of precious metals such as gold or silver -- embedded in a solid glass-like material. The prism structure has a negative refractive index, which makes it truly transparent to light, allowing it to pass freely through with no reflection.
In the future, this type of metamaterial prism could lead to improvements in low-loss fiber optic communications, the development of telescopes and cameras well-suited for dark subjects, and the emergence of optical equipment we have never seen before.
Developed by Ishikawa Optics & Art Corporation, Chatty has a face that is brought to life by means of a video projector inside its head. A video image of an actual human face (or the face of a computer-generated character, if you prefer) is projected onto the inner surface of the mannequin's face, which serves as a three-dimensional video screen. Audio synced with Chatty's video lip movements gives the face an astonishingly realistic look.
Chatty's presence at the anime fair brings Ishikawa one step closer toward realizing its dream, which is to see the technology behind Chatty's face be put to use in speech-capable historical figures for museum exhibits, theme park guides, or human-faced androids.