New Holographic Display Hacks The Light Field

[Petapixel] has an interesting post about a startup company’s new holographic display that claims to be “indistinguishable from reality.” The company behind it, Light Field Labs, claims their system requires no glasses and handles different angles.

You can see a bit in the [C|Net] video below, but — of course — being on YouTube, you can’t get a sense for how good the 3D effect is.

It seems that while most displays try to project into a 3D volume or onto a flat display media, “solid light” works more like a real hologram, using a phase guide to project light at different phases and allows inference like an actual hologram.

The video shows that you can even use a magnifying glass to examine the object and it still looks real. We couldn’t help but notice though, that the demo was in a dark place — it was made to look like an artistic choice, but we’ll bet that under bright lighting, they have difficulty delivering the image. Still, pretty impressive.

We have no idea about cost, but imagine it won’t be cheap to start with. The company claims you will be able to see these in the real world as early as next year.

If you want to learn more about traditional holograms, we’ve talked about them before. Light field hacking isn’t exactly new, but this looks like it might be ready for prime time soon.

27 thoughts on “New Holographic Display Hacks The Light Field

    1. Wasn’t there another term to hologramme, also?
      I vaguely remember that the traveler from the ‘Time Machine’ movie called Vox, the holographic librarian, a ‘Stereoscopic Projection’ at some point.
      Not sure if that’s right, though. Haven’t seen that film for years.

  1. Unfortunately this appears to be just another lenticular 3D display which has been around for over 15 years. Philips 3D division (now a separate company named Dimenco) has a lot of patents and displays based on this technology. Current 4K version are around $1,000 for 24 inch display (they license the tech out to companies like Acer and Sony.)

      1. The image is in thin air, which can be achieved with lenticular 3D. Go check out the Looking Glass stuff if you want to see what light-field lenticular 3D can do with a decent number of angles represented… even if you aren’t actually interested in owning their stuff they have enough tech docs available that you can get a pretty good feel for how it works (TL;dr a layer of pixels has several layers of lcd’s or similar that allow light to pass in some directions but not others, so you can form a series of flat images that project to enough different angles to fool your eyes).

        With a laser hologram you are basically using a complex diffraction grating to recreate both the phase and direction of every single photon as it originally bounced off an object. That level of detail is somewhere around two orders of magnitude better than our highest DPI LCD’s and while I don’t want to say there isn’t another way to do it, it would require something really groundbreaking. Of course the advantage is that you can actually have depth of field where lense focus matters in that case and you can examine minute and even microscopic details (up to the resolution allowed by the wavelength of light in use). Of course these holograms also have some trouble with different colors of light at the same time for the same reason you get a rainbow looking at white light through a diffraction grating, and even aside from that light-wavelengh sized pixels are hard to produce as a digital medium.

    1. What’s new is the very high resolution of their screens, the downfall of lenticular is resolution. With active tracking for single viewers these screens could have incredible fidelity. Multiviewer okay fidelity.

    2. I wonder if this will be more impressive than the (IMO rather impressive) Looking Glass light field displays? Looks pretty similar but… with more viewing angles and higher resolution maybe? Making them modular will be an interesting trick though.

      1. Looks almost indistinguishable from Looking Glass’ one axis autostereo display. Note that their demo video is vary careful to only ever move the camera in one plane (side to side, never up or down) to avoid breaking the illusion.

        It’s doubly annoying that Tensor Display technique for true lightfield display have been around since 2012 but never productised.

      2. What about laser technology? Long ago, my father heard of early holography experiments in the 1970s that used lasers.

        IMHO, I think it’s a shame that we’re still mentally stuck thinking of binary computers, pixel-based displays such as LC displays, IPS/TN panels, and that fetisch for the latest/fastest GPU/CPU tech. Why can’t the technical minded society move on and open its mind? Use analogue or hybrid computers, too?

        IMHO, science society was more advanced ~40 years ago when vector graphic displays were still a thing (Vectrex console, radar screens as computer displays, analog or hybrid oscilloscopes with CRTs and so on).
        The graphics very contiguous, sharp and clear. Nowadays we need an insane amount in pixel-density to replicate what we used to have. Why are we wasting our modern, precious computer power on such things?

        For example, all the fuss about RGB comes to mind right now.
        Why isn’t Sharp’s RGBY supported by others, too?
        Having Yellow as an optional reserve “primary colour” (it’s one of the subtractive ones, along with cyan and magenta) is no loss, after all.

        Or, what about transparent and/or flexible computer displays? I’m wainting for them since Expo 2000, 22 years ago. Quarter of a century, almost.

        Or, laser-based monitors as a true successor to the CRT. They are not limited to a screen mask, also. Unlike colour CRTs and LC displays their beams could display all sorts of ‘resolutions’, lines or vectors natively and are thus capable of freely drawing vector graphics, too.

        We now have access to red, green and violet lasers, the usual additive prime colours – thanks to converter crystals.
        On top of that, temperature changes, which the crystals are sensitive too, could be used to vary the “colour” of these lasers.
        If the beams are considered too dangerous, we also could use rear projection instead.

        So why is the graphics/3D scene so focused/obsessed on the same technology for years? I don’t get it. 🤷‍♂️

        1. I think the majority of people are glad we moved on from CRTs and have modern displays with higher resolution, larger sizes, better quality and don’t take as much power to run or emit radiation.

          The reason we still use silicon digital computers and binary is because they are so good at what they do, they are very densely packed and modern SSDs are partly analogue, to get more density they store different bits in the same place but at different voltages. The reason analogue computers aren’t a thing is because there is no need. Firstly chances are analogue computers would need capacitors and inductors and these will reduce the effective speed of the computer. Also they would generate quite a lot of interference and would be highly susceptible to interference. Overall analogue computers just won’t work as well and there is no point to them outside of signal processing, which is generally done digitally now or with specialised circuits.

          Also the chances of a tech minded person building their own useable computer is very low.

          If you have any scenarios where analogue computers would have a use case then please let me know.

  2. Why do people who make videos of these never seem to have a clue as to how to properly do it? The woman in the video was doing the right thing: moving her head left and right to see different views. The camera person, on the other hand, was just standing still and not moving. Very annoying.

  3. Many years ago — twenty-odd? — I remember hearing of a true holographic display: it was a block of crystal surrounded by piezoelectric transducers capable of producing slight distortions in the crystal which would distort a laser. It could show simple real-time holograms of stick figures computed on-the-fly by a large computer under the desk. I never found out anything more about it, or even if it was real.

  4. Another innovation that has limited display on the internet, video shown in controlled environment, probably not as ready for prime time as stated (or spectacular ?) else it would be all over the place. Looks promising though. Kudos for everyone that are still pushing in the insanely sub-financed and sub-paying field of digital holography. I stopped over a decade ago but can still fully appreciate the work.

  5. the video is very scammy, the actual display is just the chameleon and the far background, all the plants are real. doesn’t look high rez or indistinguishable from reality at all, looks very grainy and even in the video you can clearly see the pixels.

  6. That looks suspiciously like the classic optical setup where you have opposed part-spherical mirrors with a hole at the centre of each: the traditional trick was to put a coin or similar at the centre of one hole and it projected a virtual image into the centre of the other.

    e.g. and other places referring to “clam shell mirrors”.

    I’ve not heard of anybody doing it with a hologram, but it’s reasonable to expect it to work.

    In short, the only reason that it’s not a smoke-and-mirrors scam is that there’s no smoke involved.

    1. This company is well know shitty company of PR only, they do not made nothing that can be touching, but instead milling the money of the stupid investors with the screaming names like holography, real reality and similar shits targeting “investors” wallets. A serious site like hackaday should seriously limit publishing of such scam articles. I can boast that I made time machine, but this not necessarily should be true. Avoid ANY PR ftom Light field lab.

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