What are different holographic display technologies in the market? - HOLOFIL

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

What is HOLOFIL? Is it a 3D hologram display? Is it a 3D holographic display? Does HOLOFIL creates a hologram? Is it a 3D volumetric display? Is it a 3D display? Is it a mixed reality 3D display? Is Holofil a holographic technology company exactly? Is the tech build by Holofil Holographic tech?

There are plenty of questions like this that can be raised when our visitors see it at first. In this article we provide a reference to some existing technologies that are also being termed as holograms to provide some understanding further about the range of possibilities. HOLOFIL is a device that creates 3D visualization optical illusion to create a floating representation of 3D visualization that appears as if its a hologram inside a constrained device space. But is it a real hologram? Of course not. HOLOFIL uses the pepper's ghost effect technique in a highly optimized way to create a perfect illusion of a 3D hologram.

There are other types of displays that also use similar principle for e.g. the fans based displays as can be seen below. Here the individual blade of the fan has a LED strip that can be controlled using software to light up different LEDs. When the LED blades rotate at very high speed they become invisible and what is visible is the LED lights producing individual 3D visual content. This is again a kind of illusion where because the fans are not visible the 3D visuals appear floating in free air.

Fan based displays :

What is the advantage of these fan based displays? First they create a floating illusion because the fan blades are not visible. Then they can be mounted high on walls from where they can be seen from any where. The field of view is still limited to some 40 degrees and they also do not appear as bright in sunlight areas, however, still since they can be put on top of ceilings, walls, they are good candidates for malls, tall buildings, shopping centers, etc. where they can capture attention for display advertising. You can also create a wall of them to create bigger sized visuals for show-casing a range of scenes the way its done by hypervsn system from kinomo.

The downside they are too dangerous to mount in your shop where a person can touch them because they have highly fast rotating fan blades that can injure a person if that person tries to touch it. The rotating blades also create humming noise. Their resolution is still not that good. And some of them like from kinomo can be massively expensive where the prices start at around $2000. The Chinese versions can cost around $400 for smaller sized fans.

Pepper's ghost technique displays :

Then there are other versions of pepper's ghost which are pyramid (three sides) / or single sides as can be seen below.

These displays cost any where upward from 2000 euros. They are heavy, difficult to transport around, use custom softwares to load content, and are designed with big events and high end customer segment where money is not an issue. Pepper's ghost displays are good for indoor setting to create a more intimate experience and can come in different sizes. Most of the current ones are primarily used for indoor advertising and promotions, while with HOLOFIL we are trying to make them more commonplace for many industries like restaurants, fashion, healthcare, architecture etc. so that they target a mass market than just retail. We are trying to create new markets and industry than saturate the only retail promotion industry in which they are traditionally used and we want to help them get better with new technical improvements further.

Volumetric displays :

Then there are displays that use volumetric content such as the one below which are called volumetric displays. As you can see because they show the volume of the 3D object they need volume around to see different sides of the object as you move around the device. Most of these displays are in their early development stage and yet to mature fully. They have their own limitations such as they need another computer to drive the display externally with the ability to render the graphics to show-case in the display, and they have typically smaller sizes and their prices can increase drastically as the size increases. Their resolutions can be pretty low as the volume is created using many individual views and this lowers the resolution of each as each view is rendered in real time depending on the hardware rendering ability. There are very few of them under development in the market. They are mostly targeted towards 3D ecosystem people who can work with 3D content like 3D artists etc. These displays can cost from $700 onwards to thousands of $.

All of these devices use different techniques to visualize 3D content. The 3D content usually is always created in 3D modelling softwares such as 3D studio max, Maya, Cinema4D, After effects, Keyshot etc. for animations, while the real time 3D content is usually rendered through Unity or Unreal game engines. You can also create 3D content by 3D scanning and then animating to put on these displays. So the content has to be 3D in nature. Each of these displays have their own projection techniques to project the 3D visualizations so that the viewer gets the effect of a Hologram.

Laser holograms :

There does not exists a technique yet where holograms can be created appearing in thin air like iron man hologram below simply because light always needs a surface from where it can bounce off, that surface can be a glass, projector screen, fog, eye-glass, head-mounted display glass etc. So the holograms like below are still not there, but there are attempts to make simple versions of them using laser projection etc. as shown in the image below using plasma state in the air, etc.


The conventional holograms :

The conventional holograms are created on a holographic film by exposing a 3D real object to two laser beams. These are the the holograms that you see are like a static holographic picture that you might have seen where as you move your head and change viewing angle you see different sides of the object on a flat panel.

Below is a simple setup of creating a convention hologram of a 3D object on a holographic exposure film.

As you can see the setup uses a laser beam that is split into two separate beams using a beamsplitter (a glass with unique coating that reflects half the light and refracts (let the light pass through) half the light). One of the beams is called the reference beam while the other is the object beam. The 3D object is them illuminated using the object beam and this creates a disturbance in the pattern of the light while amounts to the shape of the object. This beam is then merged with the reference beam on a holographic exposure film, which leave the impression of the disturbance on the holographic exposure film, which is the hologram. This film is then developed in a dark room (light the old film camera development) and you get a hologram. The important point of this technique is this is a very sensitive setup to any kind of vibrations and has to be precisely calibrated to create a perfect hologram. For e.g. a tram line almost 50 meters away can disturb the setup due to vibrations when a tram passes away. The other drawback is to see the hologram you need to light up the exposed film at a specific angle using high intensity source of direction light, which makes their angle if viewing limited. This is how the traditional holograms are created. These are not holographic displays, and are the original holograms that are created using lasers on a holographic film. You can think of them as 3D pictures instead of 2D pictures that you see in day to day lives, where as you move head you see different side of the 3D object on a 2D plane.

So the moral of the story is the term hologram display is over-rated and abused in marketing and none of the displays that exists in the market are hologram displays. However, hologram display sounds very cool and simple and serves the purpose of marketing, hence most displays that create the 3d illusion are also called hologram displays.

At the end the main purpose is to be able to create mesmerizing experiences to provide a unique visitor experience either for promotions, marketing, branding, education or training. How to achieve that, and what device to use for that depends on your budget, requirements, installation conditions and ability to create the 3d content that goes well with each type of display because each of this displays has their own 3d content specific tuning requirement.

So where does HOLOFIL fits into this entire ecosystem of hologram displays? HOLOFIL uses the Pepper's ghost effect technique with a lot of new improvements and makes the entire experience very affordable and portable and aims to create an open ecosystem where people can use it as a platform to build applications on top of it using its Android base. We have a trademark on the design so its a unique design that stands out of the rest. It is uniquely designed, weighs around 5 kgs, and can be transported very easily.

So the choice is yours after you have understood what serves your purpose the best.

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