Holographic technology is exciting for a simple reason: Immersion. The best films and video games can draw us into their worlds through compelling characters and images, but a two-dimensional screen is always a limitation. Virtual reality technology accomplishes the same goal as a hologram, but with a head-mounted display (HMD) instead of projected three-dimensional images. But HMDs aren't easy to build, either, which is why the video game industry rallied around the Oculus Rift in summer 2012.
Two things separate Oculus Rift from other head-mounted displays. Most importantly, price. While professional HMDs can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the first version of Oculus Rift (designed for developers) costs only $300 [source: Kickstarter]. Second: Oculus Rift's specifications blow away many of the HMDs that have failed before it, thanks to a low input delay and wide field of view. For example, its 90 degree horizontal field of view far exceeds the 45 degrees of the Sony HMZ-T1, released in 2011 [source: Sony].
The HMD works in the same way as a 3DTV, delivering stereoscopic 3-D images to each eye to give the brain a sense of depth. The difference is the addition of head tracking, which allows gamers to move their eyes and "look" around a virtual world that surrounds their field of view.
Oculus Rift picked up nearly $2.5 million in Kickstarter funding in August 2012, as developers and gamers contributed to the project and pre-ordered their own dev kits. A consumer-oriented follow-up is planned for 2013. Unfortunately, we're not as close to a hologram breakthrough.