Holograms are the holy grail of video technology, but at the moment.
However, unless you’re Kanye West, you’re probably not thinking about getting a hologram display for your home any time soon.
Samsung’s new video screen could change that. The company recently unveiled a prototype of a new 3D display that could be made thin enough to be incorporated into a smartphone, literally putting holographic technology in the palm of our hands.
The display is capable of showing high-resolution 3D videos with a wider viewing angle than any existing technology; a significant step forward in the push to incorporate holographic technology into our day-to-day life. Currently, most holographic displays have a limited viewing angle, meaning anyone watching has to be directly in front of the screen. Samsung’s screen expands that viewing angle 30 times wider, meaning users can move around the display without shattering the illusion.
The new screen was developed by using a ‘steering-backlight unit’ to redirect the image in line with the viewer’s movements. Researchers say this kind of technology is important not only to create a more realistic image, but also to make holograms easier to actually watch.
If you’ve ever watched a 3D movie, you might have noticed your eyes found it harder to concentrate on the film than normal. That’s because our eyes aren’t used to the way that most 3D video technology beams the two separate images used to create a 3D effect from different points. Samsung’s new screen beams the two images from the same point – more in line with how we see things naturally – meaning the display is less likely to cause eye-strain or fatigue for viewers.
Solving these two problems could pave the way for holograms to be used for in a whole new range of situations, and could bring the kind of holograms we grew up seeing in Star Wars closer to reality.
An Jung-kwuen, a researcher at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, explained:
While most 3D display methods provide only some of these cues, a hologram provides them all. It perfectly replicates objects with light, producing images that look as lifelike as the real thing.
Most existing holographic displays are either too big to be properly portable, or just simply not very good. But Samsung’s team thinks their new display can set a new standard for the industry.
Lee Hong-Seok, another researcher working on the technology, told the Korea Times:
The ultimate goal of holographic display would be to deliver the most realistic representation, where people cannot tell the difference between real objects and virtually generated ones.
The researchers have demonstrated their new technology on a screen roughly 1cm thick, but they say a thinner screen, suitable for a smartphone, isn’t far away.
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