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Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi! Samsung creates slim-panel holographic video display

By Jeff Spry

Just in case you're someday expecting to send out a clandestine, droid-based message calling on an ancient space wizard's assistance to thwart a totalitarian galactic threat, help is on the way!

Researchers at South Korea's Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology have just taken a major step in the ongoing development of holographic technology with a new system for slim-panel video displays which provides clear viewing from a wide range of angles.

In a study recently published in the online journal Nature Communications, the scientific team detailed their innovative display device and their intentions on releasing it as a smartphone tool to the general public.


Actual 3-D holographic video players small enough to mass market to consumers are still the stuff of forward-thinking science fiction fare, with most current systems being far too large and not very user-friendly, especially when observed from different perspectives. As research continues to break new ground in bringing us true holograms that can integrate into our daily lives and electronic devices, Samsung's techs have leaped over multiple hurdles to present a next-generation demonstration prototype to showcase their findings. 

Check out the hovering, interactive turtle in the presentation video below, matched with actual objects like water plants.

In constructing their 10-inch-tall system, Samsung included a steering-backlight unit in conjunction with a beam deflector which added a new dimension of viewable angles, substantially increasing the efficiency of previous attempts and giving a total viewing angle of 15 degrees at a range of up to three feet away.

Their beam deflector was constructed by carefully sandwiching liquid crystals between thin panes of glass, thereby creating a prismatic effect that bends light being projected through it. Samsung's experiments proved that the beam deflector, when paired with a tilting mechanism, boosted proper viewing angles by 30 times against more traditional methods.

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At just a half-inch thick, this hypnotic creation includes a light modulator, geometric lens, and a holographic video processor that can confidently perform 140 billion operations per second, resulting in a 4K resolution holographic video playing at 30 frames per second.

“The holographic display delivers the most realistic visual representation of our reality,” says Hong-Seok Lee at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. “We show the first working system of slim holographic display. The steering backlight unit can steer the hologram toward the observer who is outside of the original viewing angle. There is no eye fatigue and you can enjoy 3D comfortably.”

While additional work is certainly necessary before this remarkable 3-D holographic system enters full production and becomes available to intrigued buyers, scientists are determined to make necessary tweaks to make it thinner and configurable for the latest commercial smartphones.

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