New Chip To Beam Smartphone Holograms
The Tumblr blogSigns From the Near Future
features just that, imaginary signs and warnings that we might come across eventually. The image blog is the brainchild of Fernando Barbella, an artist and creative director in Barcelona.
Barbella creates the images by taking stock photos and manipulating the images in Photoshop. "I look for casual and amateur images on forums and online boards, then I work on putting together the whole thing, trying to integrate the signs in ordinary and very usual places where they would be relevant," Barbella says.
How does Barbella come up with ideas? Any way he can: "Since I'm doing this during my free time, I usually came up with the idea in any give moment of the day, mostly while commuting by train, or taking my dogs for a walk at night."
Barbella says the inspiration for the project came when he was trying to devise a graphical header for another project.
"The idea came from trying to figure out how these upcoming technologies would interact with us," Barbella says. "But at the same time not showing these technologies at all, since we’ve already seen many pictures of those technologies."
Once inspiration for a new image strikes, Barbella immediately starts picturing the context. "I write it down on my mobile or on paper and I try to figure out the best and more natural way to feature it."
Subtlety is a key part of the design, Barbella says. The idea is not to trumpet the oddness of the signs, but rather to emphasize their "normalness" by placing them in very ordinary settings. "We're all very acquainted with signage," he says. "Of course there are some few touches of subtle humor, since I really enjoy irony and black humor a lot."
Barbella says he hopes the project inspires people to think about their relationship to technology. "The goal of the project is to expose a point of view, and to make the visitors think about how far -- and how fast -- we want to go in this kind of technological race," Barbella says. "Although I'm an innovation fan, I'm not an expert or a man of science, and I think there are huge chances to make some mistakes in terms of the final result."
Barbella says he plans to keep updating the image blog regularly, and perhaps take the project in new directions. "It would be nice to blur the line between the online and offline worlds, he says. "Perhaps a small book or a temporary expo in some physical space, or even producing those signs for real and start doing some urban interventions." Follow hisTumblr here
Conventional wisdom has long held that true hologram projectors — like the one R2-D2 uses to beam out a miniature Princess Leia — are squarely on the fiction side of science fiction, for now. The technology just isn’t there.
Or is it? According to a Wall Street Journal report, a startup called Ostendo Technologies has not only created a hologram projector chip, it’s made one small enough for smartphones. The Tic-Tac-sized chip should be ready for manufacturing next year.
The Ostendo Quantum Photonic Imager combines an image processor with a wafer containing radically miniaturized light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The system can control the color, brightness and angle of more than a million individual beams of light.
During a demonstration, six Ostendo units laid together beamed a 3-D image of green dice “spinning in the air,” according to the Journal report: “The image and motion appeared consistent, irrespective of the position of the viewer.” You can see a (very) short video of the demo here.
Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Ostendo has kept a low profile, but evidently it’s quite the operation. The company has raised $90 million from venture-capital firms and $38 million on government research and development contracts. The money has allowed the lab — now at 115 employees — to work undisturbed on the project for nearly 10 years, WSJ reports.
The newspaper ran the technology by MIT professor Ramesh Raskar, who said the key to the chip’s 3-D capability is its resolution. Ostendo’s system puts out 5,000 dots per square inch. Apple’s Retina display, by contrast, has about 300 dots per inch.
Early reports aren’t clear on how the chip manages the free-floating hologram effect in thin air. Previous hologram systems, like the famous virtual Tupac, still require some sort of 2-D projection surface, plus additional optical trickery. In any case, this definitely seems like something to keep an eye on.
Credit: 20th Century Fox