Hologram tech in car's back seat

Last updated 12:08 17/09/2011
GEELab 3D holographic display

END PROGRAM: The projected future of in-car entertainment, as envisioned by an RMIT team.

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Forget 'I spy' and hand-held video games, a team of developers is working on technology that will entertain little ones in the back seat with holograms controlled by motion sensors.

The technology, which is similar to Microsoft's Kinetic system, is being developed by the Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (or GEElab as it is more affectionately known) at Victoria's RMIT University.

Three-dimensional images are projected into the back seat to entertain passengers, who control the action with gestures rather than hand-held devices.

The system can teach young passengers about their surroundings as they drive along. It can project an image of a train as the vehicle passes a railway station. It can also become a mobile tour guide or provide a virtual office-like environment, allowing passengers to use the technology as an interactive computer.

''This is not far-fetched,'' the director of the RMIT laboratory, Steffen Walz, said. The technology uses some of the functions used by today's smartphones.

''We're going to build this prototype very soon,'' Dr Walz said. ''It will use gestural interaction, a 3D holographic display and also, transparent windows as an interface. ''

Dr Walz presented the Audi-sponsored research in Frankfurt this week at the brand's Urban Future Summit, an annual conference that brings together architects, designers and city planners.

With offices in Melbourne and Berlin, GEElab is a research facility that develops technology for the gaming, entertainment and media industries.

''If the car becomes a smartphone on wheels in the future, then what could you do with it? And that raises all kinds of questions, whether the car will exist in the city at all because we're getting stuck in traffic jams,'' Dr Walz said.

He said the team was yet to reach a point where the technology could be mass-produced, but they believed it could appear on passenger cars within five years.

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- Sydney Morning Herald


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