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.