Virtual and augmented reality headsets are designed to place wearers directly into other environments, worlds, and experiences. While the technology is already popular among consumers for its immersive quality, there could be a future where the holographic displays look even more like real life. In their own pursuit of these better displays, the Stanford Computational Imaging Lab has combined their expertise in optics and artificial intelligence.
At its core, this research confronts the fact that current augmented and virtual reality displays only show 2D images to each of the viewer’s eyes, instead of 3D – or holographic – images like we see in the real world.
In the past decades, image quality for existing holographic displays has been limited. As Wetzstein explains it, researchers have been faced with the challenge of getting a holographic display to look as good as an LCD display.
One problem is that it is difficult to control the shape of light waves at the resolution of a hologram. The other major challenge hindering the creation of high-quality holographic displays is overcoming the gap between what is going on in the simulation versus what the same scene would look like in a real environment.
Previously, scientists have attempted to create algorithms to address both of these problems. Wetzstein and his colleagues also developed algorithms but did so using neural networks, a form of artificial intelligence that attempts to mimic the way the human brain learns information. They call this “neural holography.”
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