A Brooklyn-based startup has launched a glasses-free holographic display for less than the cost of an iPhone 8 Plus.
HoloPlayer One (see what they did there?), from Looking Glass Factory, consists of a light-field display, such as those rumored to appear in Magic Leap's device, which provides 32 views of a scene retro-reflected from an LCD screen filtered through a lenticular sheet.
The display is combined with an Intel RealSense SR300 depth camera to allow viewers to interact with the holograms with common hand gestures. The whole contraption folds down to the size of a laptop for easy transport.
The Development Edition costs $750 and consists of the holographic display with camera, cables, and carrying case. That configuration requires a PC (preferably one with an Nvidia graphics card) or a MacBook Pro with a USB 3.0 port to work. If you need the computer built-in, Looking Glass Factory also offers a premium package for $3,000.
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In either option, there are only 35 units remaining as of this writing, and they ship by April 2018 at a standard shipping rate of $65. If you want Santa to bring it to you, select the rush order option and, for an additional $250, you can unwrap your HoloPlayer One this Christmas.
"The Christmas rush order does guarantee delivery by December 25," a Looking Glass Factory spokesperson told Next Reality. "We're fabricating and assembling these limited edition units to ship by Christmas in our own hardware lab in Hong Kong."
Along with a Unity-compatible SDK, Looking Glass Factory has curated 15 sample applications from its developer community to play with.
Until now, holographic displays without headsets have been reserved for commercial customers with ample marketing budgets. For example, RealFiction offers the Dreamoc HD3 display, which has a 23-inch screen and costs $1,999, and the Dreamoc XL3, which has a 43-inch screen and runs $7,999 (although the company also offers the displays as rentals).
While the consensus among industry experts is that smartglasses and headsets are the next frontiers for augmented reality, holographic displays that work without wearables offer a more frictionless experience for use in public exhibitions and storefronts. HoloPlayer One could make that experience more accessible for more businesses.