“Oh that,” Davies chuckles. “That’s old technology. That’s an autoscreen.”
It turns out you can already buy auto-stereoscopic TVs off the shelf. The one in the boardroom is a Philips. They work, Davies explains, by splitting what the left and right eye each see, by using a special filter that contains two tiny lenses. The lenses do the same job that coloured glasses do when you go to see a 3D movie.
The very latest technology, apparently, is holographics – the sort we have got used to seeing in science-fiction movies, where people in strange uniforms suddenly materialise from very thin air to impart their step-by-step instructions on how the universe should be saved.
In fact, the world has already witnessed a true-life version of this situation, when Prince Charles addressed a green energy conference in Abu Dhabi in January. Supposedly concerned that he might be criticised for using too many air miles, the environmental enthusiast chose to appear as a hologram, using technology developed by British multimedia firm Musion.
“We’re only just now getting computers that can generate holograms in real time,” Davies enthuses. “It’s still very expensive but it’s getting there.”
The practical applications are obvious, particularly in the design industry and for medical training.
One of the projects Davies was involved with in Sweden, and continues to be involved with in New Zealand, is what are known as mixed reality operating rooms. These are real operating theatres with virtual patients, which – thanks to the newest holographic technology – can not only be seen but touched as well.
In the meantime, Nextspace is able to show off the latest big-screen 3D technology, using expensive glasses with built-in LCD shutters. At its first open day this month for invited guests, it demonstrated how you can not only see virtual objects in 3D, but walk around them from all angles.
He is convinced that within the next decade, or possibly even the next five years, holographics will develop to the point where such displays will be possible without glasses.