Display tech startup's screen creates holographic objects by manipulating light waves

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,456   +1,033
Staff member
The bleeding edge: If you are old enough, chances are that you have seen a wide variety of "holograms." However, they have all fallen short of the very high mark created by science fiction. A Star Trek holodeck, or even a 3D projection of Princess Leia pandering to Obe-Wan Kenobi as being the rebellion's "only hope" has yet to be realized.

A silicon valley startup called Light Field Lab aims to make true light-form objects a reality. That is to say, it has a display called SolidLight that can project a seemingly solid object without using any external mechanism or optical illusions. The technology causes light waves to interact at a precise point in physical space, which your eye can then detect.

"SolidLight is unlike anything you have experienced before," said Jon Karafin, CEO of Light Field Lab. "It's only after you reach out to touch a SolidLight Object that you realize it's not actually there. SolidLight redefines what is perceived as real, reshaping visual communications, audience engagement and customer experiences forever."

The screen has to have a ton of pixels to do this. Light Field's 28-inch display has 2.5 billion pixels. For context, that is more than 300 times the 8.2 million pixels in a 4K television. The panels are modular, so they can be linked together to create enormous wall displays with 10 billion pixels per meter.

When combined with other technologies such as hand tracking and gesture recognition, the displays could be used in various commercial and entertainment scenarios, as seen in the proof-of-concept video on the company's website. Don't let the far-out nature of SolidLight trick you into thinking this is a technology that is years out at best.

Light Field Lab was formed in 2017 and is financially backed by the venture capital arms of firms like Samsung, Verizon, Comcast, Bosch, and others. It has been working on the technology for several years, and its first round of pre-orders sold out immediately in 2019. On Thursday, it began accepting its second round of pre-orders, so it's gone beyond the point of being a simple conceptual design.

The displays are currently in preproduction but will soon move to mass production. The tech is likely to be prohibitively expensive for the average consumer. Still, we could see commercial applications used in advertising and entertainment as early as next year.

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BadThad

Posts: 995   +1,136
Interesting, 3D Icon has been working on this for about a decade now. I wonder if they are involved? They have a lot of patents on this tech!

3DIcon is a developer of groundbreaking 3D projection display technologies that are being designed to produce full color, 360-degree volumetric high-resolution images. The company’s mission is to surpass current 3D technologies by creating true-to-life 3D images that occupy a 3D space and appear fully formed as viewed from any angle without anyspecial viewing aids. The commercial applications for 3D imaging technologies are projected to approach a market size of well over $7 billion by 2018. General applications include Healthcare and Medical, Industrial, Media and Entertainment, Defense and Security and Architectural and Engineering.
The company recently achieved a historic breakthrough in the development of 3D display technologies with the creation of a working laboratory prototype of its proprietary 3D display system CSpace®. CSpace® renders high-resolution, 360-degree, three-dimensional images without any viewing aids. 3DIcon’s CSpace® technology is expected to be scalable to large volumes, high resolutions, and will eventually support full color images.

This technological breakthrough represented by CSpace® has been recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, which issued 3DIcon patents in December of 2010 and September 2012. Patents #7,858,913 and 8,247,755 were issued to 3DIcon for “Light surface display for rendering a three-dimensional image” and “3D Volumetric Display.” These patents strategically position the company to lead the emergence and commercialization of volumetric 3D display technologies.

In 2011 3DIcon launched Pixel Precision®, a software product that targets the R&D market for developers using Texas Instruments’ DLP line of products.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 989   +740
Still can't believe the low bit rate they used in Star Wars hologram - maybe that just just a limitation of R2D2 - but colour me unimpressed for future tech
 

Markoni35

Posts: 1,318   +535
Do you have to stand in one fixed position for this to work? Will it work for two people, one left one right of the screen? If not, then we already had a very similar technology, which required much less pixels, so it was much cheaper and simpler to produce.

And it failed. Because nobody wants a screen that you always have to watch alone and from a fixed point of view.