'Star Wars'-Like 3D Holograms Coming to Smartphones, Tablets

Mark Evans/Robert Grant/Lucasfilm/Courtest of Everett Collection

MasterImage 3D will show off the technology, which will allow user interaction with the holographic image on the PDA, at the Mobile World Congress this month.

Remember that scene in Star Wars where Chewbacca and R2-D2 play holographic chess? That technology is no longer in a galaxy far, far away.

MasterImage 3D, known in Hollywood for its 3D-projection systems, is prepping a system that allows a hologram to be projected from smartphones and tablets like the iPad.

Texting, Web browsing or anything else one does with a portable device could be done by touching a holographic image instead. The company plans to demonstrate the technology at the Mobile World Congress from Feb. 14-17 in Barcelona.

Says Roy Taylor, exec vp and GM of 3D display at MasterImage, "If you take the screen and lay it flat, it projects the holographic object around your device, and you can interact with it."

The most obvious application is for gaming, but Taylor believes it also has merchandising uses and increases tablet users’ productivity.

"Software companies are already working on productivity enhancements with touch," he says. "This will be the evolution of how we interface with consumer-electronics devices."

MasterImage also plans to introduce a chip designed to bring 3D to video cameras and lower-priced smartphones. 3D-capable phones can run about $250, but Taylor says, "I think we can get a 3D phone down to around $150."