2011 is fast approaching and the talk about the next generation of consoles is already buzzing about the gaming news circuits. Everyone is concerned with how Sony will financially manage a PS4, while another group is concerned with how Microsoft will approach optical media formats and the impervious blockade of Blu-Ray movie content. Well folks, there’s a cost-effective solution for Sony and a content-effective solution for Microsoft and it’s called holography.

The NY Times recently ran an article about a General Electric science and research team and their findings of storage capacity in the medium of holography. This isn’t particularly new news, given that holography has been around for ages. However, what it is new about these findings is that they can use holographic optical media to maintain data storage equivalent to 100 standard DVDs.

“This could be the next generation of low-cost storage,” said Richard Doherty, an analyst at Envisioneering, a technology research firm.

The light-pattern encoded medium, at the moment, is fairly expensive and will only be available for medical, marketing and research purposes. However, by 2011 the team is expecting mass-market breakthroughs that will see Holographic Optical Media being used as a standard-fare storage medium.

According to the article, “The recent breakthrough by the team, working at the G.E. lab in Niskayuna, N.Y., north of Albany, was a 200-fold increase in the reflective power of their holograms, putting them at the bottom range of light reflections readable by current Blu-ray machines.”

So what does this mean? It means that Holographic Optical Media can be read by Blu-Ray devices but doesn’t have to be limited to Blu-Ray technology. This also means that Sony and Microsoft could potentially build optical drives around the convenience of current and past generation media formats while embracing Holography for the most demanding of next-generation game development on the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4.

For those wondering about price and economic convenience, just know that by 2012 the research shows, according to the article, that “…holographic discs using its technology will be less than 10 cents a gigabyte — and fall in the future.”

By 2011 holographic discs are already expected to be cheaper per gigabyte than the $1 per gigabyte ratio of Blu-Ray when it launched in 2006. I don’t know about anyone else but the timeframe really seems to coincide nicely with the suspected launch of the new consoles in 2011.

So is it possible that the PS4 could bypass a Blu-Ray only format for an HOM/Blu-Ray combo? And would this be a good move for Microsoft, especially given that a player that can read Blu-Ray can also use HOM? Well, time will only tell but I would definitely look forward to the consoles if they did use this kind of optical storage medium, given that storage capacity would no longer be a pang for developers.

At present, General Electric is currently licensing out the technology and working with partners to further solidify the new medium across multiple technology and business markets.

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