A group from USC have created an Interactive 360º Light Field Display. I didn’t understand what was interactive about it until I saw the video. (below)
These types of displays are called horizontal-parallax multiview 3D displays and this one is actually kinda scary. It’s basically a light field projected onto a mirror rotating 20 times per second that reflects diffused rays of light to wherever you are standing. So you get a full 3-dimensional visual of the object, just don’t try to grab it.
The display consists of a high-speed video projector, a spinning mirror covered by a holographic diffuser, and FPGA circuitry to decode specially rendered DVI video signals. The display uses a standard programmable graphics card (nVIDIA GeForce 8800) to render over 5,000 images per second of interactive 3D graphics, projecting 360-degree views with 1.25 degree separation up to 20 updates per second. (pdf)
That makes a really smooth looking image.
From a SolidWorks perspective
At first I imagined this as a good collaboration tool. I’m not sure how practical this would be though. It’s mostly novelty at this point, but if you stretch your imagination to the possibilities, I think we could see something like this used to extrapolate 2D data or create designs within visual set of constraints. This really wouldn’t provide that much benefit over an envelope modeled for your design, except that you wouldn’t have to model it. This would most likely take off in the gaming market.