True holograms: Making the display of the future
Reece Webb speaks to holographic pioneer, Jon Karafin, on the future of true holographic display technology and how his company’s development will alter the way media is experienced.
It’s hard to count how many products hide behind the tantalising title of ‘hologram’ to misrepresent their true nature. According to Karafin, “The main market challenge is not whether consumers want holograms, but rather educating them on the differences between real and fake holograms as commonly represented in today’s media.
Most technologies referred to as holographic fall into a 150-year-old technique called Pepper’s Ghost which today is just a 2D image reflecting off of a flat mirror.
Jon Karafin, CEO of Light Field Lab explained: “What makes something truly holographic is the fact that your eyes will focus in mid-air on the actual object through the convergence of light. You’ll have true reflections and refractions.”
Light Field Lab has broken ground with real holographic display technologies in development with backing from industry giants. Karafin has spearheaded the initiative with what he claims has been a life-long ambition and journey towards redefining how people consume media.
Karafin said: “This technology is something I've been working towards for my entire career— bringing that true merger between the real and synthetic worlds together.”
Karafin has an extensive background in light field and visual effects technology, having previously held executive roles at Lytro, RealD and Digital Domain. During his tenure, he was responsible for ushering in a new era of cinematic capture through the launch of Lytro Cinema, as well as delivering technology and content for many of the all-time highest grossing feature films, including Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Michael Bay’s Transformers 3, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
"The product then will be formed by combining multiple ‘bricks’ together to scale to any sized video wall display configuration which will be able to project many feet of holographic volume" - Jon Karafin, Light Field Labs
Karafin explained: “After launching Lytro Cinema, we realised we were showing the industry you can actually capture a true light field with the image quality that's required for professional cinema. But at every meeting, executives, creatives and directors asked, ‘When do we get a holographic display?’ We realised that the industry, with all the focus on VR and AR immersive technologies, was fundamentally not delivering a display that was recreating reality. That's something that we are very passionate about bringing into the market.”
The technology is currently in its prototype phase as Karafin clarified: “What you can see running in the lab today are six-in by four-in sub-modules, or what we commonly refer to as a ‘brick’. It can already run fully interactively, with the real-time projection of holographic objects within a four-inch volume.
"The product will be formed by combining multiple ‘bricks’ together to scale to any sized video wall display configuration which will be able to project many feet of holographic volume.”
Light Field Lab has recently secured a significant $28 million USD in funding from industry heavyweights including Samsung, Comcast, Verizon and Bosch to drive the development of the technology. Karafin explained that this funding will go a long way to help bring their product to market.
Karafin continued: “It's all about the growth of the team and establishing the manufacturing and supply chain. We're creating the components that are required to get into volume based production, with the goal of having our launch within the next five years.”
The company aims to target a wide array of verticals, with an initial concentration on special venues, live events, and corporate spaces. The technology is designed to integrate seamlessly into existing and future installations.
Looking forward, Karafin is convinced that this new kind of display will revolutionise the way media is consumed.
Karafin concludes: “We believe that this could be one of the most transformational technologies that the industry has seen. Imagine having a baseball game right in your living room, or video conferencing with the other person being as real as having them there— that is transformational.”