There are several reasons why 3D TVs were a failure, and one of them – the most obvious – was the lack of 3D content. Despite this, there is now a new “holographic screen” in 3D, called The Looking Glass, capable of generating images in the style of Star Wars. And the company behind her has a quite different strategy. Instead of delivering hardware without content to consumers, it is designed by and for creators of 3D content.
The Looking Glass Factory is a Brooklyn-based company, founded in 2013, that has been working on developing hologram technology for the past five years. Since then, he has produced and sold several products, including L3D Cubes and HoloPlayer One, but it is clear that those were the first steps to develop this new project.
What is The Looking Glass?
The Looking Glass is a heavy glass box that can display three-dimensional holographic content that seems to float in the air, and does not need any type of helmet or special glasses to work. Available in sizes of 8 inches and 15 inches, it is intended to be placed on a table or desk, because it must be connected to a relatively powerful computer.
As if by magic
We had the opportunity to see it in action, and we can confirm that it produces the most realistic 3D content we have ever seen. The animations transported to the Looking Glass, which is easy to do since the platform is compatible with Unity, are fluid and visible from various angles. It is also possible to interact with the holographic interface, as it supports a variety of peripheral devices such as the Leap Motion Controller and even the Joy-Con controls on the Nintendo Switch.
During our test, we launched an animated figure with only our hands and put it to dance in the air, thanks to the Leap Motion tracking control, which tracks the movements of our hand. We also illuminated a realistic scene of a frog just using a finger, which acted like a torch.
The idea of the company is to bring the Looking Glass to the hands of 3D content creators around the world, who can see how their creations are seen through this holographic screen, which can even help influence the design process. For example, placing a 3D model in the box and then projecting artificial light on it can help animators see exactly where the shadows land quickly for a more realistic result.
This will eventually lead creators to fill a library of 3D applications with hundreds or thousands of creations, which currently houses dozens of Looking Glass Factory applications. Once there is a lot of content, co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne told Digital Trends that he believes that consumers in general will want to have The Looking Glass in their homes.
"It is one of our theories that, within a few years, in people's homes, you can find our Looking Glass in each of the rooms that have an Alexa or other device with an intelligent assistant with voice control," he said Frayne “For example, there is a virtual character that speaks with Alexa's voice, and then she or l bring everything you ask for. In that sense, it will begin to become a centerpiece of other smart home devices, as well as communication and creation at home. ” It reminds us a little of the personal holographic assistant of Gatebox, although, of course, with much more versatility.
How it works
The Looking Glass consists of a combination of light and volumetric field technology. The light field screen recreates the light rays that bounce off the 3D content, which helps to visualize it, and the volumetric screen helps to give body to the image and create these animated objects in three dimensions.
Frayne said the Looking Glass generates 45 views of 3D content, so a group of people can group around the device and view the scene without any problem. In our experience we do not encounter any type of visual fatigue, malaise, or headache, even after looking at the three-dimensional images for quite some time.
With these holographic objects, Frayne believes that we will see more data than our brains would prefer on standard 2D screens. For example, being able to see the details of the map of Mars through this box provide a better understanding of the terrain, than if we simply see them on a 2D screen.
“The hope is that at first the creators use the system because the content feels more alive, and then they realize and think,‘ Oh, I can design my characters faster and better in this system, ”said Frayne. "Then that virtuous cycle of designers who create new media and content for this system begins, and then people buy it, enjoy it, and learn from it."
Availability and price
But, of course, all this technology is not cheap. The Looking Glass starts at $ 600 dollars for the smaller version, but the price goes up to $ 3,000 dollars for the larger model.
If you are interested, you can find it with great discounts through Kickstarter, which is where the company is taking orders in advance. The first hundred units will be sent in September to those who have ordered them, and the rest is promised for December. At the time of writing this note, Kickstarter shows that more than 600 people ordered a unit, so we will surely hear more about it during the holiday season.