Researcher Nasser Peyghambaria and his colleagues at the University of Arizona and Nitto Denko Technical Corporation, have together created a hologram system that is very near to real time, in that images can be updated every two seconds and when viewed, appear to be very close to real time 3-D holograms, ala Princess Leah in Star Wars (see references below).
What the team has done is expand on the technology we are all used to, those holographic images printed on a plastic credit cards and such that when moved give the impression of three dimensions. Now, instead of the picture of the hologram remaining static they use a material (a photorefractive polymer) that is rapidly changeable and updateable which means the picture you see on the piece of plastic is moving, again, in three dimensions.
The whole thing is done by pointing 16 cameras spaced in an arc at a subject, each taking a single picture one after the other in rapid succession, then sending the stream of pictures to a device that uses lasers to inscribe the pictures onto the plastic, every 2 seconds. The result is apparently not only realistic, but eerie, just as were those first holographic static images only decades ago.
Because this technology is still new there is a lot of optimism that new plastics can be developed that allow for faster updating, coloring and clarity, which might result in something truly valuable as people would be able to view things in 3-D from a distance, if say a portable multi-camera platform were installed as easily as say, a mobile satellite dish. With such a device, it might be possible to watch a live football game in hologram form, for example, or for a surgeon to perform surgery remotely, or perhaps for two people to hold a conversation over the Internet where they would appear as truly three dimensional people to one another, breaking down yet another wall between time and space.
Peyghambaria suggests that if cameras were instead placed all the way around a subject instead of a simple arc, viewers could get a 360 degree view of say a person, or an object they wished to study, such as a rock laying on the surface of Mars, merely be walking around it. Also, it doesn’t seem beyond reason to wonder what the result might be if images were lasered onto more than one plastic panel at a time, which could create a freestanding truly three dimensional experience for the person watching.