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We are entering the era of true 3D

April 26, 2024
min read
We are entering the era of true 3D

By Darran Milne, CEO

Everybody who works at VividQ is in an enviable position as we get to see the future take shape right before our eyes. We often can’t talk about the progress that we are making because of confidentiality and patent applications, but what I see - and what we have planned - will change the way that humans see and interact with the digital world in some spectacular, paradigm-shifting ways.

With so many of the fundamental building blocks of holography already in place it is now time to share my vision of what holography enables and to also share the three main phases that will take us there.

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Ten years from now we won’t need to pull a display out of our pocket or even wear a headset to consume AR content. Instead, the digital world will be seamlessly displayed alongside the real world via integrated holographic displays that are present in all urban locations such as the home, office, public spaces, retail outlets, public transport, and even the city street.

Digital objects will be locked in position matching the focal cues of the real objects nearby, creating an experience that feels akin to the HoloDeck in Star Trek. This creates some really exciting opportunities and unlocks immersive experiences that have been pipe dreams served up by science fiction films for five decades.

For example, imagine your holographic home. Rather than sitting and watching a nature documentary or playing a game on your flat screen TV, the content is projected into your living room, enabling you to explore parts of the world that most people never get to visit, or immersing yourself into a game like never before. 

It isn’t just entertainment. Top chefs can be standing in your kitchen with you, showing you how to cook a new recipe, or you can see a hologram of yourself trying on different clothes before you place your order online. Even the more mundane forms of digital content like messages can be seamlessly integrated with the world around you.

Home life isn’t the only thing to be transformed. Product design, architecture, mechanical engineering all become easier when you can get inside the problem and innovate. A great example that excites me is the ability for car designers to sit inside their creations as it is built around them.

While I find the holographic home very exciting I’m more drawn to the possibility when holography becomes part of the fabric of the city. I can chat with friends, read the news, my emails or catch up on my social feed without having to take a phone out of my pocket. I can simply call that information up from anywhere that I want. Live information, like navigation, friend location or air quality levels are ever-present and because they are placed within my world they aren’t annoying pop-ups that I can’t get rid of. Instead they are placed diegetically (my colleague Bianca recently shared some thoughts on the diegetic UI in gaming here).

But we won’t achieve this vision overnight. Instead I see this future emerging in three major stages. The good news is that the first stage has already begun.

Stage 1: Digital life through a lens

Our first holographic experiences will be projected using some form of combiner, whether that is the windshield of a vehicle or the lenses of an AR/VR headset. Navigation and gaming are two target applications, but as the market for AR and VR headsets grows I expect to see applications widen. This growth will be partly driven by holography as the technology eliminates the need for prescription inserts in VR headsets and the ability to display content with natural focus, which results in longer engagement durations and more comfort.

Stage 2: Holography in the home

At this point in the technology’s evolution we expect to see the first free-floating holograms to appear that don’t require a lens or combiner. The first applications will be TVs and/or monitors that are redesigned around holography to project large holographic objects into our spaces such as the living room and bedroom, but equally the office.

At this point we envision that more of the underlying display stack will be designed around holography. At the moment we have designed our technology to work around off-the-shelf display components and compute, but our research focus will see us innovate through every level of the tech stack, enabling this more complicated future to take shape.

Stage 3: Holography as ubiquitous as electricity

I imagine that the first applications in a city will be around advertising and transport infrastructure where free-floating holograms will have the most impact and utility. However, once established it will spread quickly as holographic displays will serve multiple purposes. It won’t be long until the quickest route to meet friends will be integrated into the sidewalk and buildings around you.

As the 2D screens in our pockets and sitting on our desktops are retired, we can look forward to an era where nothing separates us from the digital world and where human-machine interfaces are more natural.

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I’m a massive fan of science fiction films, especially Star Wars and Star Trek. These cultural icons present visions of the future (and past) without any real need to follow the constraints of reality. As such, it gives me and the team an intense feeling of pride to know that we are delivering something that for many great storytellers was seen as magical and beyond the reach of human ingenuity.