Of all the iconic scenes from the original Star Wars movie, the one that resonated with me the most was the hologram monster chess match. Despite all our Wolf Blizter- and Tupac-related holographic advances, we are nowhere near virtual 3D Dungeons & Dragons board games.
At the NY Tech Day expo, I saw something almost equally as cool--a 3D tabletop gaming rig called the Voxiebox. Voxon, the folks behind the Voxiebox, are calling their glasses-free 3D device the first-ever volumetric entertainment system.
When you look at the Voxiebox's screen from above, it looks sort of like an old Atari version of Asteroids or Tetris--except with an element of depth. You can walk all the way around the Voxiebox's 3 by 3 by 1-inch display area and be able to see the 3D viewing effect the whole time.
The next thing you'll notice about this device that looks a little like a nickelodeon machine is that it shakes constantly. The Voxiebox is equipped with a projector that shines a regular 2D picture upwards to the screen you are looking at it, but it creates the 3D effect by constantly vibrating the screen in an up and down motion.
Although the screen oscillates at a rate of 20 hertz, to the naked eye it appears as if the images simply stack into a moving picture that appears to have depth.
If the Voxiebox seems at all familiar to some Native New Yorkers, that's because Alan Jackson, who has been working on volumetric display technology since 1985, created a large-scale installation for the New York Hall of Science in 1987.
Alan is now a part of Voxon, and he hopes to see the Voxiebox make its way into arcades as a method for playing 3D games. The company also grander plans to create a bigger Voxatron 3D tabletop gaming setup with a 30-cubic-inch for local multiplayer games.