Forget 3D TV – the real next big thing is not about single-perspective images distorted by lenses, but projected images relative to the audience. Hello, holographics.

While 3D televsisions were all the buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2011, new research from the MIT Media Lab may indicate that holographic TVs are not far behind in development. At the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers’ (SPIE) Practical Holography conference in San Francisco last weekend, members of the group presented a new system that captured visual information using off-the-shelf electronics, sent it over the Internet to a holographic display, and updated the image at rates approaching those of feature films.

The commercial use of holographic images first splashed into headlines last November, when researchers at the University of Arizona demonstrated an experimental holographic-video transmission system that used 16 cameras to capture data and whose display refreshed every two seconds. According to MIT News, the new MIT system uses only one data-capture device — the new Kinect camera designed for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system — and averages about 15 frames per second.

As if holographics weren’t already a dream come true for most of those geeky enough to be reading this, don’t stop now: When the Media Lab researchers demonstrated this new technology at the conference in San Francisco, the group spoofed the Princess Leia hologram message from Star Wars to demonstrate the hack. (If you don’t get the parallel, ask @ChrisPirillo. He’ll be more than happy to explain it. Or anything related to Star Wars, at that.)

Would you watch a film or television show projected with holographic images? Or will the rise of mainstream 3D be enough for you?