Holography: Past, Present and Future
At H+, we have been performing research with various hologram techniques including Volumetric Display, Optical Holography, and Digital Holography. Holography based on diffraction techniques and wearable holography such as Hololens. When we started researching our goal was to create an open platform; a platform that allows developers and designers to achieve their imagination of what a holographic space would be like. Today, Holus clearly aims at achieving what a holographic space looks like as well as a design that has real people in mind.
First, what is a hologram? How were they first made? Why are we looking into holograms? A hologram is an image that when viewed from different angles shows a different perspective. This creates an illusion of 3D, even though currently most holograms are actually quite flat. In 1971, Dennis Gabor was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing static holography. His method was based on a diffraction technique where a coherent light source was recorded on a film and this was coined as the “hologram”. Our purpose is to start the holographic era now; not just holographic technology, but the design of how we interact with holograms. What does it mean to sit around digital information? What does it mean to have a digital, social campfire experience?
Our first goal is to make something everyday people can interact with. We see inspiring visuals like in sci-fi movies such as the floating hologram of Princess Leia and want to create something like this, but holograms have a way to go before we can do that. It’s interesting to notice that Dennis Gabor’s hologram was not in mid air. In fact, air is also a medium just like a glass. We do have a technique to create pixels in mid-air through ionization of plasma atoms in collaboration with our research at UBC. However, such a technique is not safe, cost effective, or energy-efficient (to create 1 pixel it takes 20kw of energy which is highly inefficient and not eco-friendly). And so, to make it more family friendly, we start with displaying the holograms on tempered glass. We are confident in our R&D and that we will be able to bring our level of holography to where we want it to be in 5 years from now. In the meantime, we believe in Holus to provide a message and a platform that developers, designers and consumers will enjoy and introspect about how their lives have improved as compared to using a flat 2d surface.
Holus is a combination of hardware, software and middleware all put together to bring a holographic experience. After the initial reflection of an image in glass, an important component of the holographic experience is relative position tracking of multiple users with respect to Holus. When a user moves from one position to another, algorithms perform dynamic perspective correction, correcting the image to show the new viewing angle of the content. This is simulating the concepts of digital holography in a cost effective manner through the use of software algorithms. This is the same as the products Hololens and Magic Leap. The major difference between Holus and them is that one is a tabletop device, while the other is wearable. By combining motion and position tracking algorithms, our intention is to bring a symbiotic relationship with digital content inside Holus and users.
Moreover, it’s not a traditional LCD screen. This is our patent pending technology where the display source is indeed our unique component as compared to similar products you might have seen out there. It is not just putting your screen and reflecting against a mirror like a single focal length system. This is indeed a multiple focal length system, which achieves depth through 3D data. To note it does require a 3D depth map data in order to see multiple perspectives.
Apart from this, there have been experiments performed in collaboration with UBC on integration of lenticular lenslet setup with Holus apparatus. 9 different views are created on each resulting in 36 total views with respect to 360 degrees. Which means a view is magnified every 10 degrees of change. However, there is a limitation with such a method as user moves from one position to another, they will see a jump in the frame of reference. This is corrected by position tracking algorithms that track user position in real time. Between every 10 degrees, a view is simulated and computed to be projected through film and lenticular lens as shown in the diagram above. This combination, does allow continuous projection of more than 4 views at a same time making it a multi-focal length system achieving true depth. Currently H+ is in process to provide this as a modular block that can be embedded in any 2D display setup. Through the combination of optical and digital Holography, Holus is able to achieve volumetric spread of data within pyramid structure. Currently we have two major challenges that we face with this technique 1) Requires high computing power and this is how some of the images as seen in Kickstarter video can be generated through Holus 2) The quality of the image is blurred. Whenever a layer of display is embedded on top of pyramid structure, there is a loss or manipulation of light. This happens with all the films including polarized and lenticular film.
Below is what a lenticular film looks like:
Moreover, dynamic stitching is performed using dynamic perspective mechanism in opposite directions with two sides adjacent to each other. Which means as user approaches a dead zone between 42.5 to 47.5 degrees the algorithm essentially tries to stitch the content. There are few limitations with this technique, the calibration of data is available through our SDK and is currently limited to objects that are majorly symmetrical and geometrical in shape. The organic data such as vegetation, natural material and such shaders are found to be partially disconnected. And currently both setup and algorithms are being developed to overcome such a challenge.
We have another unique patent pertaining to dynamic projection surface pertaining to attaining the right amount of refractive index depending on ambient lighting. This is achieved through the combination of an embedded ambient sensor in Holus Pro and algorithms that compute how much light needs to pass through.
Our goal is to have holography in the mid-air (also known as aerial displays) which is safe, high voxel density, energy efficient, cost effective and multi coloured rather than monochromatic. Holus aims to begin the Holographic Era of social computing; connecting people naturally in physical space rather than isolating ourselves. Through our Kickstarter campaign we will collect all the useful feedback that will allow us to provide you the ideal experience.
For more information do visit our website at http://hplustech.com