Now that 3D display maker Looking Glass Factory is closing in on $2.2 million raised in its crowdfunding campaign for the consumer-grade Looking Glass Portrait device, the company now has a 3D content generator to go with it.
On Wednesday, Looking Glass Factory unveiled a new conversion service that can convert any 2D image into a 3D hologram. After applying some machine learning magic to build a depth map from the source material, the tool creates multiple perspectives for display on the Looking Glass Portrait.
The company's HoloPlay Studio software for editing 3D content can already convert Portrait Mode photos for free. The new service, though, expands the universe of potential holograms to include scanned family photos, comic book panels, hand-drawn art, and any other digital image, which can then be uploaded to the Looking Glass Portrait through HoloPlay Studio after conversion.
The service, which costs $20 per 100 images converted, will launch this spring, first via the Looking Glass Factory website and then via the HoloPlay Studio suite as a premium feature. However, if the Kickstarter campaign reaches $2.5 million by its conclusion on Jan. 14, all backers will get their first 20 conversions for free.
"The idea that any 2D photo could be transformed into a holographic image is something that's been discussed in research groups for years, but there's never been a service that non-technical folks could use to actually access this sort of capability. That's why I'm so excited about this announcement," said Shawn Frayne, CEO of Looking Glass Factory, in a statement. "Now extremely realistic holographic memories of all sorts can be created and enjoyed by more people than ever before, getting us one step closer to a world in which we're creating in, communicating with, and reliving our memories through holograms."
In our hands-on with the Looking Glass Pro roughly a year and a half ago, we concluded that, based on its user-friendly interface for interacting with holographic-style images, the 3D display could serve as a placeholder for the eventual arrival of AR smartglasses and headsets designed for consumers. Except for its high price tage.
Now that Looking Glass Portrait has solved the pricing equation at an affordable $349 (or $249 until Jan. 14), it could very well usher in the 3D display era. Now that the Portrait device is being paired with the new 3D content conversion service, the next-gen image frame will have a steady stream of content for consumers as well.