In 1982, Blade Runner director Ridley Scott provided one of the most iconic images in science fiction cinema — an L.A. city skyline jammed with high-resolution billboards advertising a better life on the off-world colonies.
Off-world colonies aren’t here yet, but those futuristic billboards are — just check out Times Square. And they may be getting a lot weirder.
Researchers in Austria say they have developed a new kind of display technology that could result in giant billboards and jumbotron screens projecting massive 3-D images with no need for glasses. The technology actually appears to blur the line between 3-D displays and holograms in that hundreds of different images can be projected at different angles.
The start-up company TriLite, in cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology, is hyping the system as the future of outdoor digital advertising — and maybe even 3-D movies. By way of 3-D pixels (or “Trixels”), individual beams of light are projected directly into the viewer’s eyes.
The 3-D pixels use a combination of mirrors and lasers to generate each beam, and TriLite says the angular resolution is so fine that the left eye is presented a different picture than the right. The display is also bright and vivid enough to be effective outdoors, even in bright sunlight, according to TriLite.
The company’s initial disclosures don’t appear to address the obvious question — you’re going to shoot lasers into my eyes? — and there are some caveats. To experience the 3D effect, viewers must be positioned a certain distance range from the screen, otherwise the image appears in regular 2D. Also, resolution on the current prototype is … um … modest: five pixels by three. (That image above is entirely conceptual.)
“We are creating a second prototype, which will display color pictures with a higher resolution,” says TriLite’s Jörg Reitterer in the project press materials. “But the crucial point is that the individual laser pixels work. Scaling it up to a display with many pixels is not a problem.”
Another one for the Stay Tuned file. Meanwhile, the concept may remind stalwart sci-fi fans of this scene from the 2002 film Minority Report.