Holograms have been floating around for some time and a simple Google search will reveal hundreds of products claiming holographic technology — such as a pane of special glass that will make images from your smartphone appear to levitate off the screen. But a new campaign making substantial headway on Kickstarter appears to offer something new to the industry.
The product in question, called Holus, has the ability to take any 2D image from a smartphone, tablet or computer and create a 3D image. A Kickstarter campaign, which started with a fundraising goal of 50,000 Canadian dollars, has already raised more than five times that total from 374 backers.
So just what is this new gizmo, and does it mean we will soon be able to teleconference like they do in Star Wars?
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What is Holus?
Holus is a tabletop holographic projector that takes content from a computer, tablet or smartphone and converts it into a 3D image within a glass pyramidal structure, used to reflect the display in four directions. Two versions of Holus are available: a home version, which contains two smartphone docks and is geared toward families, and a pro version, which includes an HDMI port and built-in speakers, geared toward software developers.
What could it be used for?
Complete with built-in speakers on the pro model, consumers can use Holus for many purposes, from entertainment, such as playing iPad games in 3D, to educational and business presentations. For example, a teacher could use Holus to display the double-helix structure of DNA in 3D to their class. With docking stations for smartphones and tablets, Holus can also be used to video-chat, displaying the person on the other end of the call in full 3D. According it its creators, the device can also pair with other products, such as the Emotive Brain Sensor, which would enable consumers to control objects in Holus "with just their brain".
What impact would it have on the world?
The key aim for the designers of Holus was to "create a truly immersive experience" that involves movement at its core. They also asked: "How can we use Holus to facilitate human connection and form meaningful relationships?" The current iteration of Holus resembles a family entertainment device, not unlike a television. At present, the display is bulky and box-like, with the glass pyramid display requiring a supportive frame to cover it. However, according to the Kickstarter page, future development goals plan to remove the pyramid entirely, but the team is still researching the safety and feasibility of projecting a holographic image in mid-air.
How long before it reaches our homes (if ever)?
Technically, Holus is already on the market. Backers on Kickstarter have the opportunity to receive a Holus device if they pledge a certain amount. The "Early Bird" bids of $550 for a Holus Home Edition and $650 for a Holus Pro have sold out, but "Late Bird" offers of $560 and $660, respectively, are still available. For those that donate in this manner, Holus devices are expected to begin shipping in March 2016. But anyone hoping to Skype with Princess Leia without the glass confines might have to wait a few more years.
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