Ever since R2-D2 projected a tiny Princess Leia in “Star Wars” we’ve been hoping for technology to catch up and provide us with standalone holograms. Well, I have, anyway. My crush on Princess Leia dates back to 1977.
We’re not quite to the point of free-floating holograms yet, but we’re getting closer. A startup company in Vancouver, Canada, is making waves on the expo and crowdfunding circuit with a pyramid-shaped tabletop hologram projector called Holus.
Holus is designed to take display output from a computer, tablet or smartphone and turn it into a 3-D hologram that can be viewed from all sides, through the four glass facings of the tabletop pyramid. The developers hope to create a kind of “social campfire” experience where people can gather together to play games or otherwise interact with digital content as a group, instead of individually.
In one of several demo videos on the company’s Kickstarter page, producer and game designer Steven Pugh explains that there are three technologies at work with Holus — the first of which has a surprising pedigree.
It’s a stage magic trick called the Pepper’s Ghost, Pugh explains: “This is an illusion that dates back to the 1800s, using light reflecting off glass to create an image that appears to be floating in the air.”
Secondly, the Holus device splits the image to that it appears on all four facings of the pyramid, allowing multiple users to interact with the projection. The third part of the equation involves motion tracking by way of a connected smart phone or other mobile device. The Holus tracks the movement of the device, when held by the user, and shifts the image accordingly, giving the impression of a floating 3-D object.
In addition to gaming and entertainment, the designers hope to provide an open platform for applications like teleconferencing and business presentations. They’re also working on combining Holus technology with emerging input device methods such as eye tracking and gesture recognition.
It’s all in prototype phase as of now, but the team did exhibit a working Holus at this year’s CES. The comany’s Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $200,000 — well past the initial $40,000 goal — and the team plans to ship the first consumer models by March, 2016.