RED Digital Cinema, widely known for its cinema cameras, will release its own Android smartphone called the Hydrogen One in 2018, which features a “holographic display.” Now, the company has finally explained the technology behind the phone’s curious new display.
RED revealed in a press release that it has partnered with a startup called Leia Inc. The startup’s name seems to be a reference to Princess Leia, who appeared as a hologram in the first “Star Wars” film from 1977. Leia Inc. was founded on 2014 and claims to specialize in lightfield holographic display solutions for mobile devices.
“Leia leverages recent breakthroughs in Nano-Photonic design and manufacturing to provide a complete lightfield ‘holographic’ display solution for mobile devices, through proprietary hardware and software,” the company said. “The Silicon Valley firm commercializes LCD-based mobile screens able to synthesize lightfield holographic content while preserving the normal operation of the display.”
In simpler terms, the company uses a regular LCD panel that have been outfitted with a “light guide plate” beneath it. This diffracts the light from the LCD display to project images like a hologram, which can be viewed from different angles, according to Phone Arena. This gives out an illusion that users are seeing a 3D image popping up from the RED Hydrogen One’s display.
It’s a bit difficult to imagine, but Leia Inc. did publish a short concept video on YouTube in 2015 showing off how it might look like, as first spotted by The Verge.
YouTuber Marques Brownlee, or better known as MKBHD, had the chance to get a little hands on with a few prototypes of the Hydrogen One smartphone last month. One of the prototypes he tried out featured the functional holographic display.
Brownlee said that “it definitely wasn’t perfect” and it had “some quirks, like light bleeding around the outside of the display” and some stuttering on other content. However, he did also say that he was pretty impressed.
RED hasn’t given an exact release date for the Hydrogen One smartphone, but it’s slated to be out some time in the first quarter of 2018. That should give RED and Leia some time to work around the issues of the holographic display so it performs better when it launches.
“This is an incredible opportunity for both companies and a perfect marriage,” founder and chairman of RED Jim Jennard said. “Leia brings a very special piece of technology that blends seamlessly with our vision of a ground-breaking and disruptive consumer product.”
RED first announced the Hydrogen One smartphone back in July, and said that it would also have a dedicated channel where users can find 4-View holographic content. This “RED Channel” will be a place where users can stream or download movies, games and other apps that can take advantage of the phone’s holographic display.
The RED Hydrogen One is also intended to be for filmmakers, which is why it will be able to work as a control center for the company’s Scarlet, EPIC and Weapon lines of cinema cameras. The device is also modular, allowing users to add components to shoot higher quality videos and images.
The RED Hydrogen One in aluminum costs $1,195, while the titanium version costs $1,595. Both versions of the phone are available to preorder now.
RED has announced that it has partnered with Leia Inc. to make the holographic display on the Hydrogen One smartphone.