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Generally able to project three-dimensional (3D) images, a holographic monitor can be used with a computer for a person to visualize screen details in high-quality. Monitors that are capable of producing holograms are currently in development as of 2011 that are expected to be marketed within a few years. They may be used with computers, televisions, as well as mobile devices and medical displays. The technology typically requires a display with a surface that has very small elements which change shape; these can be small mirrors that interact with laser light.
Systems called Digital Micro-Reflective panel Arrays (DMAs) typically consist of thousands of tiny mirrors. These can move many times a second to reflect light from a laser. When the mirrors move, the light is often manipulated so that traveling images can be converted into 3D images. These images can be focused onto a flat surface to be seen, or with some systems they can be projected into an open space. A holographic monitor can enable content that is broadcast or recorded to be seen in 3D.
Data can also be encoded in a holographic monitor by splitting laser light into two beams. One is typically diverted into a device called a spatial light modulator. The electronic data are usually converted into white and black patterns by the modulator, forming a signal and a reference beam that intersect and are recorded. A chemical reaction is generated to form the hologram as it is stored on some form of media.
Scientists have created holographic display systems in which over 5,000 images per second can be rendered and images can be projected in full form. A spinning reflector and motion tracker generally allow the system to function, while a projector can support high frame rates per second. The video signals, produced by two stereo cameras focused on an object, can be relayed from a computer. Many researchers believe this form of technology is one step to producing 3D image projection and graphics.
The uses of a holographic monitor can range from computer video games to medical imaging systems. Whether on-screen or projected into a special liquid, images of features and organs of patients can help physicians to diagnose and treat various diseases. Some companies are even modifying High-Definition Television (HDTV) technology to support holographic viewing, so 3D images can be displayed on a screen with a home entertainment system.