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Despite years of hype, virtual reality headsets have yet to topple TV or computer screens as the go-to devices for video viewing. One reason: VR can make users feel sick. Nausea and eye strain can result because VR creates an illusion of 3D viewing although the user is in fact staring at a fixed-distance 2D display. The solution for better 3D visualization could lie in a 60-year-old technology remade for the digital world: holograms.

Holograms deliver an exceptional representation of 3D world around us. Plus, they're beautiful. (Go ahead—check out the holographic dove on your Visa card.) Holograms offer a shifting perspective based on the viewer's position, and they allow the eye to adjust focal depth to alternately focus on foreground and background.

Researchers have long sought to make computer-generated holograms, but the process has traditionally required a supercomputer to churn through physics simulations, which is time-consuming and can yield less-than-photorealistic results. Now, MIT researchers have developed a new way to produce holograms almost instantly—and the deep learning-based method is so efficient that it can run on a laptop in the blink of an eye, the researchers say.

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