Why Don't We Have Holodecks Yet?

Good question! Well, the good news is that we are making progress to making this Star Trek technology a reality. Rachel Feltman of Popular Mechanics writes:

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago recently created Cave2, the highest-resolution immersive panel display in existence. The cave is made up of 72 3D LCD panels arranged in a 320-degree shape. A special pair of glasses with tracking dots on them helps the computer know in which direction you're looking so it can adjust the images to fit your perspective. You can also use a wand, covered with sensors, to interact with the 3D objects around you. For now, the system is used for high-resolution medical-image viewing. It's cool but probably won't be in your living room anytime soon. 

Even this limited system is too expensive for consumer use. But Nathan Burba, director of Project Holodeck, is trying to make the recreational holodeck a reality:

Project Holodeck hopes to have a prototype ready in a year and ultimately to produce a mobile computing system that could be worn on the body. A head-mounted display would provide visuals, and controllers on the hands would allow for seamless control of the virtual scenario. Burba envisions everything from hours of immersive adventure-game play to the shared experience of an MMO with players around the world. "You could have any experience that you have now sitting in front of your laptop," he says, "but standing up and feeling that your entire body is in the world." 

The system might use haptic feedback—like that buzzing you feel in your controller when something explodes in an Xbox game—to simulate a sense of touch.

Link -via Glenn Reynolds | Image: CBS

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It became a joke because people finally realized that we are decades from being able to do anything like this. The technology is just not there for any amount of money. We will be lucky if we see realistic Virtual Reality in our lifetimes.
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