Ostendo is working on a Hologram chip for smartphones

June 3, 2014
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Welcome, to the world of tomorrow. Brace for impact! Set faces to stunned.

Ok I’ll stop, but the futuristic world of cheesy lines and sci-fi gadgets is not as far away as you might think. Ostendo Technologies Inc, a display technology company based in California, is determined to bring us one step further into the future with its portable holographic technology.

The 115 employee strong company has been working on its hologram project for the past nine years, and has managed to scale down its projector technology into a tiny chipset that’s small enough to fit into a smartphone. The company has named its device the Quantum Photonic Imager, which certainly has the right sci-fi ring to it.

hologram chip for smartphones

Before we get ahead of ourselves though, Ostendo’s first generation technology will only be designed to project 2D images and videos. However, Ostendo has already demonstrated that an array of its projectors can be used to produce a holographic image, which we’ll get to in a minute.

Ostendo’s chip apparently packs in an impressive 5,000 dots per inch, and can project images up to 48 inches diagonally across. With a lens attached, the size of the module is about 0.5 cubic centimetres, which is roughly the size of a small smartphone camera module. The company expects the first 2D projector unit to be in the hands of consumers before the summer of 2015, and it will only cost around $30 per chip.

Ok, but we have seen projectors in smartphones before, so let’s move on to the interesting part – 3D.

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Although I haven’t seen a demonstration myself, Ostendo has shown off a working 3D prototype to The Wall Street Journal in a recent test. A collection of six chips were laid together, which then beamed out a 3D image of a green die spinning slowly in the air. According to the WSJ, the image and motion appeared consistent regardless of which angle the viewer looked from.

Unfortunately, at this moment it is not clear how such a setup would scale down into a mobile product, and Dr El-Ghoroury, who works on the project, said that the company still needs to improve the final product with an even higher resolution output. Even so, Ostendo expects to begin manufacturing its second version of the chip, with full 3D capabilities, in the second half of 2015, which really isn’t that far away.

Of course, we will need some actual 3D content, 3D calling capabilities, and a whole range of other complementary technologies before this could become really useful for smartphones. Still, it’s an exciting prospect that we could soon be trying out for ourselves.

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