Holograms Display Time With ESP32

Holograms and holographic imagery are typically viewed within the frame of science fiction, with perhaps the most iconic examples being Princess Leia’s message to Obi-Wan in Star Wars, or the holodecks from Star Trek. In reality, holograms have been around for a surprising amount of time, with early holographic images being produced in the late 1940s. There are plenty of uses outside of imagery for modern holographic systems as well, and it’s a common enough technology that it’s possible to construct one using an ESP32 as well.

In this build, [Fiberpunk] demonstrates the construction and operation of a holographic clock. The image is three-dimensional and somewhat transparent and is driven by an ESP32 microcontroller. The display is based around a beamsplitter prism which, when viewed from the front, is almost completely invisible to the viewer. The ESP32 is housed in a casing beneath this prism, and [Fiberpunk] has two firmware versions available for the device. The first is the clock which displays an image as well as the time, and the second is more of a demonstration which can show more in-depth 3D videos using gcode models and also has motion sensing controls.

For anyone interested in holography, a platform like this is might make an excellent entry point to explore, and with the source for this build available becomes even easier. It’s almost certainly less expensive than these 3D printers that can turn out custom holographic images, and has the added benefit of being customizable and programmable as well.

Continue reading “Holograms Display Time With ESP32”

Holograms: The Future Of Speedy Nanoscale 3D Printing?

3D printing by painting with light beams on a vat of liquid plastic was once the stuff of science fiction, but now is very much science-fact. More than that, it’s consumer-level technology that we’re almost at the point of being blasé about. Scientists and engineers the world over have been quietly beavering away in their labs on the new hotness, nanoscale 3D printing with varying success. Recently IEESpectrum reports some promising work using holographic imaging to generate nanoscale structures at record speed.

Current stereolithography printers make use of UV laser scanned over the bottom of a vat of UV-sensitive liquid photopolymer resin, which is chemically tweaked to make it sensitive to the UV frequency photons. This is all fine, but as we know, this method is slow and can be of limited resolution, and has been largely superseded by LCD technology. Recent research has focussed on two-photon lithography, which uses a resin that is largely transparent to the wavelength of light concerned, but critically, can be polymerized with enough energy density (i.e. the method requires multiple photons to be simultaneously absorbed.) This is achieved by using pulsed-mode lasers to focus to a very tight point, giving the required huge energy density. This tight focus, plus the ability to pass the beam through the vat of liquid allows much tighter image resolution. But it is slow, painfully slow.

Continue reading “Holograms: The Future Of Speedy Nanoscale 3D Printing?”

a 3d printed case, sitting on a table with cactuses in the background, with a 3d rendered holo assistant reflected in a cone of polycarbonate sheets from a flat HDMI display pointed up

Anime Inspired Holographic Virtual Assistant

[Jessp] has created a very cute and endearing DIY virtual assistant called Maria. The build combines a 3D printed housing that uses a modern take on the “Pepper’s Ghost” illusion to render a virtual, three-dimensional anime inspired assistant that can take commands to get information about the weather, play music or set timers.

The hub houses a Raspberry Pi 4B and a 3.2 inch LCD HDMI screen mounted flat on its back to render the perspective corrected “Maria” character using a technique borrowed from the Pepper’s Cone project. Polycarbonate sheets are formed into a cone, allowing for the 3D effect of rendering the virtual assistant model. A consumer grade mini USB microphone is used to receive voice commands along with a consumer grade USB speaker for audio feedback. The virtual assistant offloads the text to speech services to Google Cloud, along with using a weather API and Spotify developer account to for its musical options.

All source code is available on [Jessp]’s GitHub page, including build instructions and STL files for the housing. We’ve featured open source voice assistants in the past, including Mycroft and a even a HAL-9000 virtual assistant (running Kalliope) but it’s nice to see further experimentation in this space.

Continue reading “Anime Inspired Holographic Virtual Assistant”

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.

Continue reading “New Holographic Display Hacks The Light Field”

Projecting Moving Images In Air With Lasers

You’ve seen it a million times in science fiction movies and TV shows: a moving holographic display. From Princess Leia asking for help to virtual tennis on Total Recall, it is a common enough idea. [Dan Smalley]’s team at BYU has made progress in projecting moving 3D images in thin air. While they might not be movie quality, they are a start, and, after all, you have to start somewhere.

The display traps a small particle in the air with a laser beam and then moves that particle around, leaving behind an illuminated path in the air. You can see the effect in the video below. The full paper explains how a type of ray tracing allows the relatively small optical trap display to appear larger and more fluid. While it does make images seem to appear behind the display’s actual volume, it also requires eye tracking to work since the illusion only works from a certain perspective.

These are not, of course, technically holograms. That’s actually an advantage in some cases because holograms require a tremendous amount of data that increases rapidly as the size of a display scales up. The optical trap display uses a much more manageable data rate.

We’ve seen optical trap displays before. In fact, volumetric displays seem to be all the rage lately.

Continue reading “Projecting Moving Images In Air With Lasers”

A Different Kind Of 3D Printer: Desktop Holograms

Holograms aren’t new, but a desktop machine that spits them out could be available soon, presuming LitiHolo’s Kickstarter pans out. The machine will have a $1600 retail price and fits in a two-foot square. It can generate 4×5 inch holograms with 1mm hogels (the holo equivalent of a pixel).

The machine allows for 23 view zones per hogel and can create moving holograms with a few seconds of motion — like the famous kiss-blowing holograms.

Continue reading “A Different Kind Of 3D Printer: Desktop Holograms”

Hello, Holograms

Holograms are tricky to describe because science-fiction gives the name to any three-dimensional image. The science-fact versions are not as flashy, but they are still darn cool. Legitimate holograms are images stored on a photographic medium, and they retain a picture of the subject from certain angles. In other words, when [Justin Atkin] makes a hologram of a model building, (video, embedded below) you can see the east side of the belfry, but when you reorient, you see the west side, or the roof if you point down. Holography is different from stereoscopy, which shows you a 3D image using two cameras. With a stereoscopic image, you cannot tilt it and see a new part of the subject, so there is a niche for each method.

There are a couple of different methods for making a hologram at home. First, you probably want a DIY hologram kit since it will come with the exposure plate and a known-good light source. Far be it for us to tell you you can’t buy plates and a laser pointer to take the path less traveled. Next, you need something that will not move, so we’re afraid you cannot immortalize your rambunctious kitty. The last necessity is a stable platform since you will perform a long-exposure shot, and even breathing on the setup can ruin the image. Different colors come from the coherent light source, so getting the “Rainbow Holograms” advertised in the video is a matter of mixing lights. Since you can buy red, green, and blue laser pointers for a pittance, you can do color remixes to your content.

Another type of hologram appears on things like trading cards as those wildly off-color (chromatic, not distasteful) images of super-heroes or abstract shapes. They’re a different variety, which can be printed en-masse, unlike the one-off [Justin] shows us how to make.

If you’re yearning for volumetric displays, we are happy to point you to this beauty capable of showing a jaw-dropping 3D model or this full-color blocky duck.

Continue reading “Hello, Holograms”