Microsoft came pretty dang close to projecting holograms in the real world with their HoloLens mixed reality headset. However, those holograms can only be seen through the eyes of the viewer so long as they’re wearing the head-mounted display. Tech startup Looking Glass, on the other hand, has developed an interactive lightfield kit that allows you to make holograms that everyone can see with their naked eye—no head-mounted displays required.
Called HoloPlayer One, the development kit and the accompanying SDK allows users to create, display and interact with 3D creations in a holographic state. Looking Glass states on their website, “The cinema dream of the hologram has finally arrived with the release of HoloPlayer One. This is a first-of-its-kind system that allows anyone to bring to life their dream of the hologram.”
The HoloPlayer One isn’t Looking Glass’ first foray into creating a volumetric display as the company previously introduced their Volume display back in 2016, but the device never gained any traction or fanfare. Still, their new holographic imager looks to be quite amazing and comes in two flavors- the Development Edition, which requires a connection to a PC via HDMI ($700) and the Premium Edition, which comes outfitted with itsown internal PC.
Both platforms feature a 2560 X 1600 LCD display and a depth-sensing camera to assist with object interaction, which can be viewed within a range of 50-degrees from the device. While the screen is indeed large enough to see user-made creations, they only display at a resolution of 267 X 480 due to the image reflecting into 32 different depth planes. So, we can’t go expecting Star Wars-like 360-degree high-resolution holograms just yet. The GIF below explains how the display works-
Regardless of the limited resolution, the HoloPlayer is an exciting device that not only lets users create holographic 3D images but interact with them as well. It’s also important to remember that holographic technology is still in its infancy and unlike AR/VR devices, Looking Glass’s platform doesn’t require you to wear anything or use controllers for image manipulation, just your hands. That alone is pretty impressive.