Back in July we first heard that swanky cinema camera maker RED was working on a smartphone. They even boasted that this new phone would pack a “holographic” display.
As we all know on social media – photos or it didn’t happen.
On that count, RED has been extremely cagey. Yes, they made the announcement, we’ve even seen a hands-on. But neither of those instances actually explains their 3D witchcraft.
They didn’t even give decent hints whey they put the $1,195 Hydrogen One phone up for pre-order. Gamble much?
Our only hope
Well, now we have an answer: RED’s screen technology comes from an exclusive partnership with a startup called Leia Inc. (Yes, like the princess).
The company was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from HP’s research labs. RED has made an undisclosed strategic investment in Leia as part of the partnership.
How does it work?
Well, you’re not going to get full benefit from any screenshots or even video on here – unless you happen to have one of those special displays.
However, here’s Leia’s description:
Leia leverages recent breakthroughs in Nano-Photonic design and manufacturing to provide a complete lightfield “holographic” display solution for mobile devices, through proprietary hardware and software. The Silicon Valley firm commercializes LCD-based mobile screens able to synthesize lightfield holographic content while preserving the normal operation of the display.
Here’s a video from the company that was published a couple of years ago:
From what I gather, the screen projects 3D objects that you can view from different angles. The appearance of what you are seeing will differ depending on your physical position.
So, for example, if you were looking at a map app, you could in theory see the skyline in 3D with the taller builings appearing beyond the screen.
The science bit
It is all based on diffraction, apparently. That and the production of lightfield illumination with a layer of nanostructures added to a conventional LCD. Got that? No, me neither.
Leia claims this “diffractive lightfield backlighting” layer doesn’t significantly compromise the display’s quality, battery consumption, or thickness for non-holographic use. That I do understand, and like.
This is all very groovy but, just like 4K, is there any point if there isn’t the content to back it up?
If RED and Leia do get the tech to work nicely, they will also need to have a credible array of content lined up ready for the Hydrogen One.
Should that not be the case, then the device will be nothing more than an expensive curiosity and the object of geeky bragging rights.
According to statement from RED:
“The Hydrogen program will feature stunning holographic content and 3D sound for movie viewing, interactive gaming, social messaging and mixed reality,”
That’s fab, but where is it coming from?
It might appear to be a bit down on this, but I really am not. I hope that this tech works and that content appears for it.
I mean, who doesn’t want to play that famous Star Wars scene of Leia’s message via R2-D2 as their lock screen?