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RED details how its holographic smartphone display will work

by Brandon Russell | September 10, 2017September 10, 2017 10:00 am EST

We’ve been blessed with a number of high-end smartphones in 2017, but none are more ambitious than the RED Hydrogen One, a $1,195 gadget that will integrate with the camera-maker’s expensive suite of cinema cameras.

The phone stands out for a number of reasons, not least of which because it’s being made by a company inexperienced with making smartphones. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect about the Hydrogen One is its holographic display, which the company revealed will be supplied by Leia Inc., a startup founded in 2014.

Incidentally, the startup was a spin-off from HP’s research labs, so it’s run by people who have plenty of experience. In an announcement about a partnership between Leia Inc. and RED, there’s a brief explanation as to how the Hydrogen Phone’s holographic display will work.

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.

A concept video from 2015 shows the technology in action, presenting 3D objects that can then be interacted with using gestures. It’s essentially something out of a Star Wars movie, thus Leia Inc.’s name.

While the technology sounds great in theory, it’s unclear how it’ll perform in the real world. Consumers got a tiny glimpse of similar technology in the Nintendo 3DS, which used a neat stereoscopic 3D effect, but how many actually want it on their phone?

RED could very well deliver a sound experience that proves there’s a market for holographic displays. But first it has to actually show us it can make a unit that works. The company previously showed off a few prototype models to popular YouTube personality MKBHD, who said he was impressed, but noted it needed a lot of work.

And with companies such as Google and Apple moving to augmented reality, RED certainly has a mountain of expectations to climb. According to RED, the Hydrogen One will be released in the first half of 2018.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.