Computer Generated Holography

Computer Generated Holography (CGH) is the method of digitally generating holographic interference patterns. A holographic image can be generated e.g. by digitally computing a holographic interference pattern and printing it onto a mask or film for subsequent illumination by suitable coherent light source. Alternatively, the holographic image can be brought to life by a holographic 3D display (a display which operates on the basis of interference of coherent light), bypassing the need of having to fabricate a "hardcopy" of the holographic interference pattern each time. Consequently, in recent times the term "computer generated holography" is increasingly being used to denote the whole process chain of synthetically preparing holographic light wavefronts suitable for observation.

Computer generated holograms have the advantage that the objects which one wants to show do not have to possess any physical reality at all (completely synthetic hologram generation). On the other hand, if holographic data of existing objects is generated optically, but digitally recorded and processed, and brought to display subsequently, this is termed CGH as well. Ultimately, computer generated holography might serve all the roles of current computer generated imagery: holographic computer displays for a wide range of applications from CAD to gaming, holographic video and TV programs, automotive and communication applications (cell phone displays) and many more.

CGH as defined in the introduction has broadly three tasks:

1.      Computation of the virtual scattered wavefront.

2.      Encoding the wavefront data, preparing it for display

3.      Reconstruction: Modulating the interference pattern onto a coherent light beam by technological means, to transport it to the user observing the hologram.

Currently, several companies and university departments are researching on the field of CGH devices:

  • MIT Media Lab has developed the "Holovideo" CGH display
  • SeeReal Technologies have prototyped a CGH display

Wavefront calculations are computationally very intensive; even with modern mathematical techniques and high-end computing equipment, real-time computation is tricky. There are many different methods for calculating the interference pattern for a CGH.



CGH System Architecture