CMU center's latest venture imaginable
Electronic sliding doors and cell phones have existed since the 1960s -- on a TV show called "Star Trek."
What is introduced as science fiction frequently becomes part of daily life, said James F. Burke Jr., deputy chief technology officer based in Philadelphia for Lockheed Martin Corp.
"Entertainment often envisions where we can go," he said.
Star Trek's second series, "The Next Generation" in 1987, introduced another technology that executives of Lockheed Martin Corp. hope someday to replicate -- the holodeck. The computer-controlled room on the starship Enterprise could simulate virtually any environment by voice command.
Lockheed Martin has taken the first step at making the holodeck a reality by awarding a 12-month, $650,000 grant to Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center, said Burke.
"Talking about the holodeck shows what we're aspiring to," said Don Marinelli, executive producer of the CMU center. "I get tingles even thinking about it."
Lockheed Martin's support for the project has allowed Marinelli to assemble his largest one-project team ever -- 19 people, he said.
Marinelli is the first to concede that what he, his colleagues and graduate students produce a year from now won't duplicate the holodeck. For example, they won't be able to manipulate matter in such a way to make objects like swords or couches appear out of nothing.
"But we want to involve as many of the senses as possible to allow for ease of interaction," Marinelli said.
Touch screens will provide people using the technology a variety of data that will help solve whatever the problems are before them, Marinelli said.
Those touch screens, for instance, could provide objects' infrared signatures or magnetic fields, which could point toward a solution to a hypothetical challenge, Marinelli said.
Like in Internet-based multi-player games, such as "World of Warcraft," many people could participate and share input, Marinelli said.
"We call it 'augmented reality' -- or bringing to one's perception things that otherwise would not be perceived," he said.
A real-world application ultimately could be a military helmet and mask like the one Robert Downey Jr.'s character wears in the movie "Iron Man," Burke said.
The inside of the helmet and mask could "enhance communication with other soldiers, visualize things in and around the soldier's location and identify where the good and bad guys are," Burke said.
Burke said Lockheed Martin chose CMU's Entertainment Technology Center for the project after another Marinelli team returned "fantastic results" for a project last year.
Lockheed Martin funded the CMU center with $100,000 to create a "game environment that enabled our (Department of Defense) customer base to make decisions quicker," he said. "Our leadership was very impressed."
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.