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We see the world in three dimensions. But when we have to reproduce that world in print, in photographs and in film, we are forced to rely on only two. While most of us have made our peace with that, there's a hardcore group of reality junkies who won't settle for anything less than the real deal. Hence the holograms of Zebra Imaging, an Austin, Texas startup. Think virtual reality without the goggles; hallucinations without the drugs. These are not your typical winking clowns from the Cracker Jack box.

First there's the issue of size. By tiling the holograms together in 2-foot-square increments, the former MIT Media Lab graduates at Zebra have figured out a way to make holograms that measure 6 x 18 feet. That's a good-sized billboard. The implications for trade shows, outdoor advertising, bus posters and department store windows are immense. These are holograms with depth and true color. Ford Motor Co. has purchased the company's largest and most complicated hologram to date, using it to display its new concept car at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. The 40-square-foot panel -- billed as the world's largest hologram -- show's the P2000 at 50 percent of full size and in a full three dimensions. The skin of the car is translucent, allowing the mechanically-minded to check under the hood to see the car's powertrain. It's the next best thing to kicking the tires. Ford likes the technology so much, it's bought an equity stake in Zebra Imaging.

As you might expect, holograms from Zebra don't come cheap. Currently, a 2-foot tile runs about $5,000. And they aren't a cinch to slap together, either. Containing more than 900,000 separate exposures, the Ford hologram, which holds three terabytes of data, required more than 300 hours to produce. Get the big

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