- Looking Glass Displays
- Light Field Labs Solidlight
- Leia Displays
- Multi-lens experiments
This page showcases a collection of displays that use some other advanced optical techniques (such as lenticular, multilens arrays and other complex marketing terms) to create a sense of depth for a viewer. These displays often market themselves as holograms and holographic displays, but a more accurate term is a lightfield display.
Looking Glass Factory has been a pioneer in lightfield displays for years and has made a number of innovative products in this category. Their differentiator is that a lot of their products are geared towards an average consumer rather than only an expensive commercial market.
In very basic, but somewhat unaccurate terms, the display itself uses a very high resolution/high pixel density display and a specialized lenticular film that directs the light into a few dozen different viewing angles. A specialized imaging pipeline takes a 3D scene, slices it up into all of these different views, and puts each one on a thin slice on the display. As that light passes through the lenticular film, it gets refracted into the different angles and allows each of your eyes to see a different view. The effect itself is very convincing and really feels like a floating image is right in front of the display.
Their latest product, the Looking Glass Portrait is a 7.9" lightfield display with a 78º viewing cone an it goes for $399. It's great for small experiments and things like viewing personal portraits. While it does allow for multiple viewers at the same time, its somewhat small size and narrow viewing cone needs careful consideration if it is to be used for an installation project.
Looking Glass Factory does offer 2 other more commercially oriented versions for large scale displays, but the price point is a large leap. They have a 4K Gen 2 display for around $3000 that is about 15.6" diagonally. Their 8K Gen2 Display is $20000 and about 32" on the diagonal. As the displays get larger, they need to pack even more pixels into the display to create the same vokumetric visual effect. This creates more and more overhead for rendering as well, but it will be interesting to see where this kind of technology goes as resolution density continues to evolve.
Below is an overview of Looking Glass's previous product that utilzied somewhat similar technology but had a large slab of acrylic on top of the display that felt like a volume that contained the image. The newer version feels like an image you can touch.
Light Field Labs announced their Solidlight display in 2021. A commercial product or a demo that isn't hidden behind other material, has not yet appeared, but they do claim the ability to tile multiple units together so that very large displays can be created. The display they will offer will be approximately 28" as a single unit. Similar to other displays on this list, they also have a custom software rendering pipeline called WaveTracer so that 3D scenes can be ported and rendered on their display.
Light Field Lab’s basic technology, branded SolidLight, is a 28in panel that is able to output 2.5 billion pixels, or more than 10 billion pixels per square metre.“It is doing this at full P3 colour space in a way that has not been possible until now,” he says. “Just one of these panels by itself is already the highest resolution display that has ever been designed.”Each panel packs a proprietary FPGA, GPUs, wall and display controllers. In front of that is the key innovation of a ‘nano particle polymer surface energy relay’. “This gives us the opportunity to form a singular continuous wavefront composed of cones of light,” he explains.The wavefront contains amplitude based on patterns and frequencies that is being modulated by a phase guide that sits on top of the polymer surface.“The phase guide control plane is what allows us to converge the amplitude into a focal region,” he says. “In order for anything to exist as a true wavefront you need extremely high density sampling to generate billions and billions of photons.”Since it is modular and bezel-less, these panels can be combined to form video walls of any size with configurations exceeding hundreds of billions of pixels.
To put 2.5 Billion pixels in context: a standard 4K display is 3840x2160 which comes out to 8,294,400 pixels, and an 8K display is 33,177,600 pixels. So packing 2.5 billion pixels into a 28" panel (if that is truly what they are doing) is an incredibly dense display.
Leia Lightfield Displays are another commercially available product in the form of an android tablet that promises a lightfield experience. They use a specialized diffractive backlight technology that essentially delivers different viewing angles to each eye to create a sense of depth. More on the scientific approach in the video below.
Leia 3D Display operating principles
FoVI3D’s ActiveHogel™ is a frameless, tileable, spatial light modulator designed to accommodate large format light-field displays (LfD).
I'm not sure if this truly fits in the light field category, but it feels close enough in operating principle. This experiment from around 2010 by Hideki Kakeya utilizes a display that shows multiple angles of some 3D content and an array of microlenses to provide multiple glasses-free angles of that content. More information here.