The BBC has Built a "Holographic" TV

By James O Malley on at

Could we soon be spending our evenings staring into a glass pyramid that has been balanced in front of us at eye level? That's the weird future that the BBC is currently looking into.

In a post on the BBC Internet blog the corporation's Head of Digital Partnerships Cyrus Saihan uses the example of Princess Leia's distress signal in A New Hope as a way of describing the effect that they are going for.

Essentially it was an el-cheapo exploration into the potential for augmented reality in programme making. This is distinct from VR, as rather than immerse the viewer the idea is that the images would float in front of them.

To make the device, they took a normal 46 inch telly, and got an acrylics company to make the plastic pyramid that sits on top. This isn't actually a new idea - the same principles were used by the Victorians in theatres. But there is a modern twist, as the Beeb brought in a specialist hologram company to transform some footage from the BBC archive to work with the new format. It appears that they tried everything from science and nature footage, to old BBC TV idents.

According to the blog, reactions have so far been mixed - with some ordinary audience members who were used as guinea pigs saying they could see potential for nature and drama - but also commenting that the technology appears to work better at a distance than close up. Annoyingly too, it works best in low-lightning conditions, which might make it feel weirdly dramatic if all you want to do is catch-up on holographic Bargain Hunt.

Check out the above video to see more - but perhaps don't expect to have Huw Edwards reading the news in your front room just yet. [BBC]