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A hologram is a three-dimensional image projected onto a two-dimensional surface by carefully controlling the diffraction or reflection of light to produce an illusion of depth.

Holograms in Science Fiction

Holodeck on Enterprise-D
Star Wars communication hologram

In science fiction stories, holograms can typically be projected into empty air instead of onto a flat surface.

Holograms in Star Trek

In Star Trek, holograms are used primarily in entertainment systems known as holodecks. In these systems, light is controlled to produce three-dimensional images on walls and in free space within the holodeck chamber. Force fields and replicator technology are used to give solidity to the images.

Holograms in Star Wars

In Star Wars, holograms are primarily used in communication systems to allow "face to face" conversations over interstellar distances. They are also used in military command-and-control centers to provide leaders with three-dimensional views of a combat zone. Astromech droids are also commonly equipped with holographic projectors.

Holograms in Other Science Fiction

  • In Babylon 5, the Minbari use holographic image systems in the control centers of their warships to provide panoramic views of the combat zone to the command staff.
  • In Mass Effect, holographic user interfaces (presumably with force field support for tactile function) are widely used for computer systems and other devices.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, holograms function as advanced computer interfaces.