If you've seen the film "Avatar," you may have noticed one of the characters plucking a display panel from a desktop and continuing to use it as a standalone control screen. While we probably won't witness epic wars between human colonists and sapient humanoids in the near future, the technology depicted in the science fiction film is available in our current time, albeit in unrefined form.
At the recent computer graphics event Siggraph Asia 2009, a pair of researchers from the University of Tokyo's Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory demonstrated their Volume Slicing Display, a screen prototype developed for medical use. With it, radiologists would be able to view 3D imagery from a flat X-ray plate via a calibrated projector.
The technology essentially lets users experience 3D virtual objects in a physical environment. This could mean doctors visualizing cross sections of a brain in real time while walking around an operating theater, for example.
The setup apparently comprises only plexiglass or paper, one or more projectors, and ARTookit markers that can be made with off-the-shelf hardware. While this doesn't sound as exciting as what's shown in the film, at least we know we may get there in the future. 2148, perhaps?
(Source: Crave Asia)