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HP projection technology could take a page from Star Wars

August 24, 2010 | Chris Payatagool
r2d2.jpgBy Paul Krill via InfoWorld

Businesspeople would be projected into meetings the same way R2D2 projected a hologram of Princess Leia

In the future, business meetings might seem like a scene out of the movie "Star Wars," if  technology envisioned at Hewlett-Packard comes to fruition.

Stars Wars-like 3-D projection technology is on the drawing board at the company, with the potential to project businesspersons at many locations into virtual reality-like meetings, reducing the need to hop on airplanes and spend significant time away from home.

"The whole concept behind how do you project somebody into the room is that you have people who are scattered around the country but you re-create them so that they feel like they're part of the room," said Phil McKinney, CTO for the Personal Systems Group at HP, at the Emerging Display Technologies Conference on Thursday in San Jose, Calif. This capability can be done in a low-resolution format today, but HP is pondering next-generation scenarios.

When the movie "Star Wars" came out in 1977, a critical scene had R2D2, one of hero Luke Skywalker's robot helpers, project a holographic image of heroine Princess Leia putting out a distress call. Three-dimensional projections like those eyed by HP would be made possible by advancements in RGB lasers, McKinney said.

This sort of display technology is "still years out," he said. But as a forerunner, HP with its HP Halo rooms already is able to conduct meetings featuring high-definition video collaboration capabilities, McKinney said. HP Halo technology features telepresence and videoconferencing.

Step one in HP's vision would be an in-room experience. Later, participants would be able to move out of the room, McKinney said.

Also, McKinney noted HP's work in developing flexible displays, which are made out of mylar film. Users eventually could fashion a display out of an entire wall or desk surfaces, McKinney said. Full-color and multitouch capabilities are part of the effort, he said. Full video would be offered as well. Commercial products based on the technology are anticipated in two to three years.

This article, "HP projection technology could take a page from Star Wars," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.

Read more about computer hardware in InfoWorld's Hardware Channel.

Paul Krill is an editor at large at InfoWorld.

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