Future of Hologram technology
As technology continues to progress, we are given the opportunity to explore new and more exotic types of programming, software, hardware, and systems. One innovation that is growing at a rapid pace is hologram technology.
Holography is a photographic technique that records the light scattered from an object, and then presents it as three-dimensional.
Holograms of varying forms have appeared over the years, including transmission holograms, which allow light to be shined through them and the image to be viewed from the side, and rainbow holograms, like those used on credit cards and driver's licenses for increased security.
The development of hologram technology began in 1962, when Yuri Denisyuk, of the Soviet Union, and Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks, at the University of Michigan, developed innovative laser programs that recorded objects in 3D. They recorded on silver halide photographic emulsions at the time, but the clarity of the objects was far from perfect. New methods have improved holograms over time.
Holograms in real life
Holograms are as close as your wallet. Most driver's licenses include holograms, as well as ID cards and credit cards. Holograms can even be found throughout our houses. Holograms come as part of CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and software packaging, as well as nearly everything sold as "official merchandise".
But, these security holograms - which discourage forgery - aren't impressive. They simply change shape and color when tilted.
However, large-scale holograms, the kind illuminated with lasers or created in a dark room with carefully placed lighting, are phenomenal. They're basically two-dimensional surfaces that show very accurate three-dimensional images of real objects. You don't even have to wear special glasses like when you go to a 3D movie.
Holograms have surprising features. For example, each half contains whole views of the entire holographic image. The same is true if you cut out a small piece. Even a small fragment will still house the entire picture.
Understanding the principles behind holograms, helps you understand that the hologram, your brain, and light waves work together to make clear, 3D pictures.
How to make hologram lables
To make a hologram, you record an object (or person) in a clean environment with a laser beam and apply the information to a recording medium that will clean up and clarify the image.
The laser beam is split in two and redirected with mirrors. One of the beams is directed at the object. A portion of the light reflects off the object and is recorded on the medium.
The second beam (reference beam), is directed toward the recording medium. This means the beams coordinate to make a precise image in the hologram location.
These two laser beams interfere and intersect with each other. The interference pattern is imprinted on the recording medium to recreate the 3D image.
Introduction of 3D holograms
3D holograms are coming into our lives. A 3D hologram is an object that isn't actually "there," but looks like it is, either floating in mid-air or standing on a nearby surface. This "augmented reality" ( AR ) is a revolution well on its way.
Microsoft ( MSFT ) has its HoloLens headset, Apple ( AAPL ) uses ARKit, and Google ( GOOGL ) presents holograms in ARCore. The tech is saturating the tech market, and IT mega-corporations are racing to dominate the AR market.
3D hologram displays are the next step in more human-compatible digital content. The applications for the new technology are limitless.
A hologram projected in a room could show a 3D concept car like it was really there, and 3D presentations for meetings and conferences will wow audiences. And how about holographic telepresence? Yes, a hologram of you projected to a meeting room thousands of miles away!
Holograms have the potential to dramatically improve training, design, and visualization in many business settings and production facilities. Being able to "look at, zoom in on and manipulate 3D versions of in-progress designs radically enhances the design process."
Even marketing departments can thrill customers with holograms through experiential marketing campaigns and 3D hologram interactions.
One product currently in development is called DeepFrame. This holographic tech enables science fiction-like applications, like 3D telepresence. The cost is prohibitive at $50,000, but as the use for experiential marketing and telepresence grows, competition will grow and costs will decrease.
There are also developers like Looking Glass Factory that are working on a display product called HoloPlayer that's currently available for $750 (PC dependent) or a $3,000 version (built-in PC).
A HoloPlayer displays 3D holograms on a sheet of glass, so you don't need special eyewear to view them. As Mike Elgan notes , the device creates "…3D hologram objects that can be manipulated using in-air gestures. When you look straight on, you see the front of the image. Tilt your head to the side, and you see the side of the image. These can be manipulated with natural hand gestures - reaching out, pretending to grab and turning will rotate the 3D objects. In-the-air swiping gestures also work as expected, taking you to the next image in a series."
Holographic imagery is also coming soon to windshields everywhere. A current example, demonstrated at CES by a company called WayRay, is Navion.
This dashboard-mounted projector produces an overlay of navigation data and turn-by-turn directions on the road itself. Navion also identifies hazards, such as pedestrians, and highlights them on the windshield. Navion can be controlled with in-the-air hand gestures or voice commands.
What most technophiles are waiting for is 3D hologram displays for smartphones that project the hologram on or above the surface of the display. Samsung and LG have been developing this technology for several years, but they feel that 3D hologram support for smartphones is still decades away.
Holograms in the Future
The general public is fascinated by holograms. However, holograms are major business. It is suggested that by 2020 the market for genuine, display holograms will be worth $5.5 billion . Here are some of the incredible ways holograms are currently used.
Military Mapping by holograms
Geographic intelligence is critical to military strategy. Fully dimensional holographic images are being used for improved reconnaissance. These 3D holographic maps of "battle-spaces" allow soldiers to view three-dimensional terrain, look "around" corners, and train for missions.
The company takes computerized image data and turns it into a holographic sheet. "Not only can users 'look into' the high-quality 3D image of the terrain stored in the hologram sheet, but the technology is simple to use and can be rolled up for easy storage and transportation." The maps are also useful in disaster evacuation and military rescue scenarios.
Information Storage with hologram technology
Society generates incalculable amounts of data every day. Digital storage capacity increases every year. Our personal computers store hundreds of gigabytes of information, including family photos, videos and documents. Now think about a storage disc being corrupted. The losses are unimaginable.
Though holograms create fascinating imagery, they don't just have to record and present a visual object. Holograms are capable of recording pure data - mountains of it. Holograms have the potential to store absurd amounts of information. The current prototype systems store 4.4m individual pages of information on a DVD like disc. They also offer a unique form of long-term security.
"If you make an optical hologram of a page of information and then smash it, for example, you can reconstruct it from any of the pieces. This makes holographic data storage extremely reliable. Unlike CDs and DVDs, which store their data on the disc's surface, holograms store data in three dimensions and those pages can overlap in the storage space."
Holography usage in Medical science
Holography is on its way to revolutionizing medicine. It can be a tool for visualizing patient data in training students and surgeons.
Current systems like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans generate complex data using advanced imaging technology. This technology has the capability to produce full color, computer-generated 3D holograms.
Using these 3D images for training and display, holograms require no viewing devices or glasses. Students and doctors can simply "look", unhindered, at the three-dimensional images. These images can include the incredibly complex organs and systems of the body, like the brain, heart, liver, lungs, nerves, and muscles.
Fraud and Security by using hologram
Because Holograms are complex and hard to make, this makes them an incredible advantage in commercial security.
If you have a credit card, you have a hologram. "That small silver rectangle of a dove on your credit card is a white-light, mirror-backed, transmission hologram. It displays a three-dimensional image which is visible as you move from side to side, and changes color as you tilt your card up and down." These holograms are incredibly difficult to forge.
Bank notes are also starting to incorporate secure holograms. In the UK, the newest £5 bank note has an image of Big Ben and uses holography to produce a set of changing colors as you tilt the note. There is also a 3D image of the coronation crown "floating" above the note when tilted.
Art and holography
Artists began experimenting with holography the moment it became a practical process. There are artists around the globe using the three-dimensional of holograms to bend and cut space, combine collections of still images or video to produce animated 3D works, and to sculpt pure light.
Most recently, an exhibition in central London presented a show of creative holography. International groups of selected artists contributed work to an exhibition on Governors Island, New York, and artists from Canada, Italy, the US and UK were chosen for an exhibition using holography and the media arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico this summer.
Holograms used to be the stuff of science fiction that was "coming to a theater near you". However, the practical uses of holographic technology have eclipsed the film industry and become a commonplace feature in our everyday lives.
We are only seeing the beginning of the usefulness of holograms and as the innovators and developers continue to improve the technology, holograms will become an even larger part of society.
The future of 3D holograms
Smartphone-based augmented reality (AR) and the AR headset explosion will bring 3D holograms into our lives everywhere. Meanwhile, though, the real AR hologram revolution is being ignored.
A hologram is a 3D virtual object that isn’t actually “there,” but looks as if it were, either floating in the air or standing on a nearby desk or table.
The “holo” in Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is a reference to holograms. And when we think of these future AR holograms, we think of headsets, goggles such as HoloLens or smartphones running applications created with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore.
The technology is increasingly becoming ubiquitous, and companies are racing to win market domination. A competitor to the HoloLens, the “Lightware” headset from secretive Magic Leap, has been in the news lately, after six years of development at a cost of $2 billion, for two reasons.
The first is that the company unveiled the “Creator Edition” of the headset in December. Now we know what it looks like: something right off the cover of a vintage sci-fi novel.
The second reason is rampant speculation that Apple might buy Magic Leap to accelerate its own AR goggle development, speculation driven by Apple analyst Gene Munster.
In other hologram headset headlines, Dell this week announced that it will start selling, on Feb. 15, the $1,495 Meta 2 developer kits, which include the Meta 2 AR headset, for business deployments. The company said the Meta 2 is supported by several business-class Dell Precision Workstation PCs.
The AR smartphone app experience is emerging now — and the AR headset world is getting closer every day.
So that’s the story on phones and goggles, but what about that “real AR hologram revolution” I mentioned earlier? I will get to that, in the second half of this column. But first, let’s address a basic question.
What are holograms good for
Think of hologram displays as the next step in making digital content more human-compatible.
Humans see the world in 3D. Our computer and phone screens show us a 2D version of the world. It’s artificial.
If I look at a concept car design on my laptop, people on the other side of the room see only the back of my laptop lid. That’s artificial, too.
A hologram projected in the middle of the room could show a 3D concept car for all to see, as if it were a physical object actually there.
The biggest applications for holograms are for enterprises, such as what I described above — 3D presentations for conference rooms and meetings.
And while we’re deploying holograms in the conference room, we might as well beam live remote meeting participants into the meeting — holographic telepresence.
Holograms will also dramatically improve training, design and visualization in enterprises. The ability to look at, zoom in on and manipulate 3D versions of in-progress designs radically enhances the design process.
And, of course, in the marketing department, holograms will thrill customers with experiential marketing campaigns and customer experience interactions.
We’re already seeing applications for all these emerging for smartphone, tablet and headset AR. But the real benefits come when holograms are liberated from such devices.
Holograms without phones or headsets
While dozens or hundreds of major hologram research projects are currently being developed in corporate and university labs around the world, the first examples of this new category are already shipping — or are available to corporate developers.
A company called Realfiction makes an AR product called DeepFrame. The product is basically a 64-inch glass window that you look through to see the real world plus 3D holograms and AR images and text. These objects can be projected to appear a few feet away and a few feet across or miles away and miles across — for example, across an entire city.
DeepFrame holograms can appear to be miles wide, such as this life-size recreation of a rocket launch.
DeepFrame enables all kinds of science fiction-like applications, such as 3D telepresence (making it appear almost as if people are in a meeting, when they’re in fact on the other side of the world).
DeepFrame is currently sold to enterprises but could eventually be used for retail experiential marketing purposes. (DeepFrame costs approximately $50,000.)
Another approach to AR hologram creation is already shipping from HP. That company now sells a special 23.6-inch display product called the HP Zvr. The $4,000 device was made in a partnership with a company called zSpace.
The HP Zvr replaces a standard monitor and adds the ability to cast 3D holograms over the screen.
The Zvr doesn’t require a headset, but it does require lightweight glasses.
The screen works via sensors on the display that track the location of the glasses and therefore your eyes, which enables you to look at multiple sides of 3D objects by leaning to one side or the other.
A special stylus has a virtual laser coming out of the end, and it enables you to grab and manipulate the floating holograms.
Meanwhile, a startup called Looking Glass Factory is working on a display product called HoloPlayer that’s currently available for pre-order as a $750 developer’s edition that has to be plugged into a PC or a $3,000 version, also for developers, that has a PC built-in.
The HoloPlayer shows 3D holograms on the other side of a sheet of glass, and you don’t need glasses to see them.
Looking Glass Factory
The HoloPlayer device creates 3D hologram objects that can be manipulated using in-air gestures.
When you look straight on, you see the front of the image. Tilt your head to the side, and you see the side of the image.
These can be manipulated with natural hand gestures — reaching out, pretending to grab and turning will rotate the 3D objects. In-the-air swiping gestures also work as expected, taking you to the next image in a series.
The current version of the HoloPlayer sacrifices resolution for the 3D depth illusion. The light is projected onto 32 different depth planes, which results in a resolution of only 267 x 480.
Holographic imagery is also headed to a windshield near you. The most recent example was demonstrated at CES by a company called WayRay. Its product, called Navion, is a dashboard-mounted projector that creates the illusion of laying navigation data and turn-by-turn directions on the road itself. The company also rolled out an SDK for developers and announced that a Chinese car company would build the technology into its vehicles. WayRay is also working with Honda to develop future concepts for windshield 3D hologram products.
Beyond navigation, the Navion system identifies hazards on the fly, such as pedestrians crossing the road, and highlights them on the windshield. Navion can be controlled with in-the-air hand gestures or voice commands.
A different kind of smartphone hologram
Currently, you can get the illusion of a 3D hologram by using any number of smartphone apps created with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore.
These don’t create 3D holograms — they create a video of a hologram. They combine real-time video feeds with digital objects. The app shows you what the camera sees, then superimposes digital images on top of that real-time video feed. The hologram appears to be a few feet in front of you when you’re looking at the screen.
Researchers are working on the creation of 3D hologram displays for smartphones that project the hologram on or above the surface of the display. Future technology will be able to project 3D holograms into the air above or even around a smartphone display.
Korean display giants Samsung and LG have reportedly been working on this for years. A professor at Chungbuk National University named Kim Nam told The Korea Herald that 3D hologram smartphones are 10 to 20 years away.
The kind of smartphone hologram technology that enables floating-in-the-air 3D holograms is in our far future. But in-the-screen holograms are coming soon, according to one company.
The popular HD video camera maker RED is working on a $1,195 smartphone called the Hydrogen One that it says sports a holographic display. The screen is being developed with a startup called Leia (named after Princess Leia from Star Wars, who introduced fans to the holographic display idea in the opening scene of the original 1977 movie). Leia is a spinoff from HP Labs.
The difference between future hologram phones and the RED Hydrogen One phone is that, while the 3D effect on the RED happens when you move the phone around, nothing is projected in the air. It all stays on the screen.
Holograms will prove immeasurably useful and powerful for enterprise applications. And this power will be fully realized with technologies more advanced than today’s smartphone apps and tomorrow’s AR headsets.
The job today is to start exploring the solutions now coming online. Several of these offer low-cost development kits, which are ideal for kicking the virtual 3D hologram tires of this emerging new interface.
Holograms have been a part of our imagination since the dawn of science fiction. But fiction is now starting to cross over into reality.
world's thinnest hologram
A team of scientists from RMIT University and the Beijing Institute of Technology have designed the 'world's thinnest' hologram. It is said the hologram is capable of being integrated into everyday products such as smartphones.
The work was led by RMIT's Min Gu led the project and claims the holographic technology can be seen without 3D goggles and is 1,000 times thinner than human hair. The academics dubbed the technology a 'nano hologram'.
At present, the constraints that hold back holographic technology lie in the limits of optical thickness. Regular holograms modulate light to project the illusion of a three-dimensional shape. But this needs to be within the parameters of the optimal thickness limit – computer-generated holograms are too large to fit atop smartphones and therefore have limited practical application.
Now, Min and the team behind the work has developed a 25 nanometer hologram using topological insulator material. It has a lower refractive index on the surface layer, but an ultrahigh refractive index in bulk. This thin insular film can enhance the holographic image without sacrificing its compact design.
Min says that the nano hologram is "fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture."
Theoretically, the technology may be able to fit inside smartphones and other devices but there is still work to be done. The next step is to shrink this technology even further, so that it can become suitable for integration upon LCD and smartphone screens, effectively producing a holographic device in your pocket.
The possibilities for portable holograms are appealing for a wide range of industries, Min says. "Integrating holography into everyday electronics would make screen size irrelevant – a pop-up 3D hologram can display a wealth of data that doesn’t neatly fit on a phone or watch.
"From medical diagnostics to education, data storage, defence and cyber security, 3D holography has the potential to transform a range of industries and this research brings that revolution one critical step closer.