So, after thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on Amazon you've finally got your brand-new top-of-the-line HD TV, HD-DVD Player, and replaced your whole DVD library with HD-DVDs. Now your living room is packed to the gills with the latest in entertainment technology. You are a god of the media age, and lesser men bow before you.
Enjoy it while it lasts. Thanks to Princeton University, something better is on the horizon, and the days of HD are numbered. The technique they use is rather complicated, but I'll give you the Cliff's notes as best I can.
A conventional camera lens doesn't fully capture an image. How much light a camera can take in is limited by the aperture size, and many of the light rays that exist in nature are too weak to be captured on a photograph or in a film. In recent years we've been able to increase the sensitivity of camera lens' in order to get more detailed images. We've also developed methods of scanning images closely in order to capture the minute details that would normally be missed. We're making progress, but things still aren't picture perfect.
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Enter Jason Fleischer, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Princeton, and leader of the research team that came up with a new method of taking images. They use a non-linear lens, rather than the conventional linear lens. Light enters the non-linear-crystal lens, which distorts the images by reflecting light waves around and through each other. Each time a weaker light ray, one that would not normally be picked up, intersects with a stronger ray, that stronger ray carries information about the weaker ray to the camera.
Still following me? Next the scientists reconstruct the image using an algorithm that puts the light rays back in their original order. Now you have an incredibly detailed picture of an object that captures every single aspect of it perfectly. This new method is expected to debut in the medical field, as a 3-D imaging device.
So, what does this mean for us?
In a couple of years this technology will hit the medical and scientific industries. Better microscopes, 3-D body imaging, that sort of stuff. Before long the graphic design and movie industries will get a hold of it. Super-realistic motion capturing, advances in animation and CGI, and probably some bitchin' new cameras to boot.
When the film companies start to take advantage of this, the television companies won't be far behind. A new standard for detail has been set, and it's only a matter of time before someone takes advantage of it to render Seth Rogen's man-beard in ultra-high-def. Just imagine it; you'll be able to count the follices.