One of the challenges facing the military is how to effectively communicate a battle plan. If you're going to a physical place it's helpful to have as many visual aids as possible. One of the things DARPA has tried to develop along these lines is a 3D holographic display. And they've succeeded.
Not that 3D holographic display, this 3D holographic display.
It's called UPSD Urban Photonic Sandtable Display. It allows a 3D display that does not require any special glasses and allows up to 20 participants to stand around, look at it, and interact. Or interact so much as freezing, rotating, zooming, etc. Freeze and enhance! (I know mixing my Star Wars metaphors with my Star Trek quotes is just asking for it).
It can be any where from six inches to six feet and is meant to process data (possibly population or medical data) and interpret in like a 3D graph. They're working on incorporating that with previous 3D technology they've developed for mapping that is supposedly being used by troops in Afghanistan.
So what does this mean? Doesn't look too impressive admittedly at the moment but clearly the capabilities and options are there. And while now it's being developed by the military for urban missions I could see it being used by city planners and developers or by aid groups who are going into devastated areas. I can think of a wide range of applications from medical professionals looking at treatment and spread of disease or just basic medical care in a geographical area to a Dilbert-esque style marketing corporate tool who wants to see how well they can sell widgets in a city and monitor real time influence or purchase of their product to find better ways to appeal to the consumer.
The technology and the implications so jaw dropping even Nien Nunb can't keep his mouth closed.