Back in July camera-maker RED announced that they were making a Holographic Media Machine, which was their fancy way of saying they were making a smartphone that would have holographic capabilities. Now we know just how those capabilities are going to work, because we know who RED is partnering up with.

Leia Inc, which spun out from HP Labs, is helping RED make the tech for the phone. Leia's tech uses light field technology, which consists of LCDs with backlights pointing in different directions. The combined angles produce 3D effects that are visible to the naked eye, which means 3D without any glasses required. Where Leia innovates is achieving this effect while also maintaining the 2D display capabilities, so that you can switch between the two viewing modes depending on the current content.

Like a lot of viewing technology, one of the big questions is how much media there will be available. To create the holographs, creators will need to use four cameras simultaneously to capture all of the angles, which sounds like a tall order for amatuers that don't have a lot of money. Another method is to convert existing 2D content into 3D, which is not an easy process.


It might be a little too early to dismiss RED's phone as a gimmick, especially seeing as how the tech is actually there and it seems legitimately impressive, but it certainly doesn't seem poised to break out of its niche. Unless someone comes up with a way for content creators to produce holographic content in a way that won't break the bank, there won't be enough media to support the phone's biggest feature. And at a starting price of $1,195, RED needs to make sure the holographic aspect of their phone isn't going to immediately fizzle out.

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