Volumetric OLED Display Shows Bladerunner Vibe, Curious Screen Tech

[Sean Hodgins] is out with his latest video and it’s a piece of art in itself. Beyond a traditional project show and tell, he’s spun together a cyberpunk vibe to premiere the volumetric display he built from an OLED stackup. Update: He’s also documented the build.

The trick of a volumetric display is the ability to add a third dimension for positioning pixels. Here [Sean] delivered that ability with a stack up of ten screens to add a depth element. This is not such an easy trick. These small OLED displays are all over the place but they share a common element: a dark background over which the pixels appear. [Sean] has gotten his hands on some transparent OLED panels and with some Duck-Duck-Go-Fu we think it’s probably a Crystalfontz 128×56 display. Why is it we don’t see more of these? Anyone know if it’s possible to remove the backing from other OLED displays to get here. (Let us know in the comments.)

The rest of the built is fairly straight-forward with a Feather M4 board driving the ten screens via SPI, and an MPU-6050 IMU for motion input. The form factor lends an aesthetic of an augmented reality device and the production approach for the video puts this in a Bladerunner or Johnny Mnemonic universe. Kudos for expanding the awesome of the build with an implied backstory!

If you can’t find your own transparent displays, spinning things are a popular trend in this area. We just saw one last week that spun an LED matrix to form cylindrical display. Another favorite of ours is a volumetric display that spins a helix-shaped projection screen.

39 thoughts on “Volumetric OLED Display Shows Bladerunner Vibe, Curious Screen Tech

      1. I’m amazed at some of the projects the creator has enough energy for such a video which looks like it’s a project in of itself.

        I agree it was light on details but it gave my Primer vibes which more than offset it.

        I’d have liked more videos of the unit in action, it’s too much to ask but I wanted to see a demo of something like super mario on it. Not an actual game just a guy moving (or dot) on a background with some parallax.

      2. There are no rules as to what should be in a video. It’s his own thing and he’s smashed it out of the grounds compared with many. Nothing wrong with fun.

        Check out Media Division, which is all strange cinematography nonsense. No idea if it’s a topic you’ll like, but it’s a good example in my books of the showmanship/detail balance:

        Full disclosure, I collect old camera crap and am somewhat, but not entirely German.

    1. Oil would work also and be somewhat more reversible, but also a potential mess. If they cost $2 each rather than $20, then yes, slosh it full of epoxy.

      Recently found crystal clear UV cure epoxy (which would presumably work well here). Where have you been all these years??!

      It’s not that it has to be exactly the same refractive index, but more close would be more good.

    1. @StephaneAG said: “Very cool video, also reminds me of Sparkfun’s version: https://www.sparkfun.com/news/2885?_ga=2.76976593.593068306.1614835506-636151729.1614835506“.

      The 1.51″ 128×56 Crystalfontz transparent mono OLEDS [Mike Szczys] found with his Duck-Duck-Go-Fu are $22.68 each at qty.-10 to 19. So 10 of them is gonna run $226.80 – Ouch! But Crystalfontz has a reptation for steep prices. The Sparkfun Transparent Graphical OLED Breakout comes with the 3D 1.51″ 128×56 mono OLED dislays and it costs just $39.95, which seems impossibly low. Unfortunately, the Sparkfun product is now unobtainium. I did search Alibaba/AliExpress for the 1.51” 128×56 transparent mono OLED dislays and easily found them, but even on Alibaba they cost $15.00 each in qty.-2 through 999 pieces.[1] So that comes out at $150.00 for qty.-10 – still pricey.


      1. https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/1-51-Inch-128-56-Mono_62576273272.html

        1. @randomoneh said: “Have you tried contacting sellers? They might be willing to significantly reduce the price.”

          These displays are a commodity product. Usually it takes a lot more than qty.-10 to get prices down significantly. The Alibaba link I provided has detailed pricing through the volume tiers.

    1. If you are suggesting putting one stack for each eye, then it would be pointless. Since each stack would only be seen with one eye, you’d only have monoscopic view of each stack, thus loosing the benefits.

      If you are suggesting something else, then please ignore my comment.

      1. These are significantly more transparent (~70%) than say lcds with two polarizing filters which would only have a theoretical transmittance of ~25% so depending on the application and requirements this may be a better choice. HUDs and AR are two applications I can think of off the top of my head that would benefit from higher incident light transmittance.

        1. We have seen a few mods of people doing clear LCD displays, and with several of the same display like an old 16:9 VGA dell (as an example) would the effect work similarly with full color ?

  1. An amber (or full-color) OLED stack could do a very convincing Nixie tube simulation, as it would be able to mimic the actual stacking of the numeric elements. Very expensively, of course.

  2. Wish I could do this just for the fun of it and writing interesting software to tinker with volumetric displays but that’s gotta be a good $400-500 just in the displays! I’m sure he’ll recoup more than that from ad revenue from the posted video but I’d take much longer lol.

  3. Intriguing point. Some early phone screens were *somewhat* translucent.
    The S3 Neo was a bit like this and with extreme care could be turned into something very much like a TOLED.
    Obviously the trick here would be to get the panel and *carefully* remove the back opaque cover without bending the display. you’ll be left with a very fragile glass and polymer wafer.
    I used a spudger to scrape away through the metal backplate, cotton bud and acetone then shine a light through it.
    You’d probably get away with maybe four of them layered up though the back one should probably be left intact minus its front UV shielding.
    For even more brightness take off the shielding on all but the front screen.
    Hint: Don’t get any solvent on the interconnects where the ribbon plugs in.
    Silicone oil or glycerin will work as a bodged light transfer for at least temporary purposes.

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