News

USC Research Looks a Lot Like Star Wars

December 17, 2015

USC News covered USC researchers who are developing technologies reminiscent of those found in Star Wars.

When it comes to holograms, for instance, Paul Debevec, ICT’s chief visual officer at the Institute for Creative Technologies, said the public will always remember one hologram above all others: “Princess Leia coming out of R2-D2 and telling Obi-Wan Kenobi that he was her only hope sticks in the public consciousness of what a hologram is supposed to be.”

That one depiction, from a movie 30 years back – which wasn’t a hologram at all, but a composited video image – has shaped what people expect from holographic displays.

At ICT, Debevec and his colleagues are working on three-dimensional displays created from a spinning surface. The effect is that of an object that looks real, floating in space, without the need of virtual-reality goggles.

They are also working to create a 3-D video conferencing system, one Debevec said was actually inspired by Star Wars. “There’s a moment when Yoda is supervising some operations on the Wookie planet but he still has to go to the Jedi Council meeting, so he shows up at the meeting as a hologram,” he said.