As sci-fi geeks, we want a holodeck, and we want it badly. Unfortunately for us, the technology to build a holodeck still isn't there yet, and probably won't be ready or available for another 10 to 15 years, according to Phil Rogers, a corporate fellow at AMD who has over 20 years of 3D expertise.
Speaking to Universe Today, Rogers laid out seven hurdles that need to be overcome before a holodeck can be built:
- A better-than-Imax video experience
- The highest-fidelity audio ever
- The sensation of touch
- Efficient memory allocation
- Lots of processing power
- Find paying customers
- Target the open source community
For realistic video, a holodeck would need a video experience that wraps entirely around, above and below a person. And visual perspective would have to dynamically change with each person's head movements. This can be achieved by combining multiple video feeds and stitching them together seamlessly says Rogers.
For believable sound, Rogers says the audio in a holodeck would have to be "directional and able to change as the person moves" — a feature even the best surround-sound systems apparently can't mimic (yet).
In terms of simulating touch, Rogers says, "The most likely way that we’d do that is with targeted air jets, and transducers that haven’t been developed yet."
To power a holodeck would also require an exorbitant amount of computing power. "The problem is it would take racks and racks of mainframe-like computers," says Rogers. He envisions a holodeck won't be ready for mainstream folk until the components fit on a small rack and consume very little power.
The last two hurdles to a holodeck are strictly business-related. If a holodeck was built, it'd be very expensive, but who would buy one? Rogers believes companies could use holodecks to make business conference calls more engaging and immersive, as opposed to having a Skype video chat and two-dimensional Powerpoint presentations. If you ask us, using a holodeck to conduct fancier conference calls seems like a waste of expensive technology, and waiting 15 years. Surely, we can find more imaginative uses for a holodeck, like simulating different eras of time. Or hey, how about fully immersive video games and movies?
Finally, Rogers says opening up the holodeck architecture to programmers would be very important, because usually the best ideas come from the open source community.