Remember the "Star Wars" scene where robotic scamp R2-D2 projects a three-dimensional image of Princess Leia trying to ask for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi?   

New 3D holographic imaging technology developed at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences is bringing it a little closer.   

"Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world," said optical sciences professor Nasser Peyghambarian, who led the research effort.   Their prototype device uses a 10-inch screen rather than being stand-alone in free space, and the image is recorded using an array of cameras, each of which records the object from a different perspective. The more cameras, the more refined the final holographic presentation will appear.

The information is encoded in a fast-pulsed laser beam.   Each laser pulse records an individual "hogel" (short for holographic pixel - a 3-D version of a pixel) in the special polymer. 

The neatest feature is that it does full parallax: "As you move your head left and right or up and down, you see different perspectives. This makes for a very life-like image. Humans are used to seeing things in 3D."