Sure, watching Michael Jackson strut his stuff once more is cool, but currently holograms are the preserve of the rich and richer. Fortunately, though, a team at MIT is trying to build a glasses-free 3D projection system that should be affordable enough to use at home.

The system uses two liquid crystal modulators to project subtly different images—eight, in their current prototype—which means that you see a different perspective on the scene depending on your point of view. To widen the viewing angles, MIT has also built a special screen which uses lenticular lenses—a kind of matrix of magnifying lenses—to change the appearance of the images across the field of view. The whole thing is explained really quite well in this video.

All of which sounds pretty great—and it seems to work, too. While it's far from perfect, the current set-up works at 240Hz to provide 3D images with parallax running at 40Hz—plenty for a regular TV image, if you're not too fussy. And, who knows, it might mean that one day you get to have Uncle Ted over for Thanksgiving without having to smell him. Mercy. [MIT News via Phys.org via Engadget]