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HOLOGRAM MAY BECOME DESIGN TOOL

When Al Holmes talks about the future of design technology, he likes to show visitors a four-color, laser-projected hologram of a red Dodge Viper.

The image is so realistic that light reflects off the curve in the Viper's front fender.

Someday, such an image could replace the need to have a full-sized model prior to approving a new design, said Holmes, manager of the computer-aided design/manufacturing design office at Chrysler Corp.

Chrysler believes it is the only automaker actively using the four-color laser hologram technology, said Holmes.

The technology was developed in the former Soviet Union and transferred to the United States after the end of Communist rule.

Chrysler acquired its display device about a year ago from American Propoleya Corp. in Birmingham, Mich. Units the size of Chrysler's cost $5,000 to $7,500, said Jim Fischbach, owner of American Propoleya.

The device, which mounts on a wall and looks like a framed picture, measures only 8 inches by 12 inches.

But Holmes wants one big enough that Chrysler's top executives could make a go/no-go decision on a new vehicle design based solely on a holographic projection.

How big? At least 20 feet long and 12 feet high to be able to display a full-sized image of a car, truck or minivan.

A display screen that size does not exist yet, Holmes said. But he's hoping it will someday.

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