One of the most popular pieces of technology from Star Trek that people want to see is the Holodeck, but so far, current technology hasn't allowed for that to become a reality.
Sure, we've got virtual reality finally coming into its own, but that's just not the same as when Data put on a hat and walked around the streets of a Holodeck London as Sherlock Holmes in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Part of the problem is that current technology can't produce images fast enough to keep up with humans or any movement. However, researchers at the University of Tokyo have recently solved that problem by creating a projection system with a camera that delivers images at 1,000 frames per second.
That's impressive when you consider that most Hollywood films only project images at or below 48 frames per second.
The projector achieves its speed thanks to some new controls added to its digital light processors, which use a micro-electric-mechanical system (MEMS) to create microscopic mirrors on a silicon chip.
Unfortunately, though, the rest of the projector's specs aren't that impressive, especially when compared with standard projectors: this one only has a resolution of 1024 by 768 with 256 colors. Of course, it is just a prototype, and researchers hope to build a better model for retail by 2016. It's also likely that the technology has applications far beyond gaming.
"This new technology enables sensing and 3D measurement in units of microseconds, which are not perceivable by human eyes, potentially increasing the range of applications," writes Tsuneyuki Miyake for Nikkei Technology. "In 3D measurement, the high-speed projector is used to project certain patterns on an object, and the shape of the object is three-dimensionally recognized based on the image."
Potential applications include the 3D scanning of an object on an assembly line to determine if it's good or not. Or perhaps the projector could scan and measure a parking lot, consistently keeping track of vehicles in spaces and not.
So, it's not quite the Holodeck, but it is one of the closest things we've created yet. However, it may take some time before we have the technology that lets us explore the streets of London as Watson with Data.