Dec 29, 2015 | By Benedict

Love it or hate it, nobody can deny that Christmas 2015 has been all about the new Star Wars film. With millions packing into cinemas the last two weeks, viewers have been forcefully reminded of lightsabers, Jedi Knights and holographic technology—an iconic communication tool seen throughout the films thanks to the projection capabilities of R2D2 and other droids. However, much has changed in the real world since the original trilogy, and 2015 sees 3D holograms no longer confined to the world of science fiction. With technology firms all looking to develop the most innovative and futuristic products on the market, holographic technology appears to be just around the corner for everyday smartphone use.

The newest entrant to the holography race is Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics, which has just been awarded a key patent for 3D hologram technology, which the company has been working on for around three years. Although little is currently known about its mechanics, the innovative technology will manipulate specific wavelengths of light to create 3D holographic images. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) listed the patent on December 27, 2015.

Diagram from Samsung's 3D hologram technology patent

The patent could accelerate similar projects being undertaken by competitors. Smartphone rival Apple last year secured its own patent for 3D hologram technology, which will use lasers, micro lenses and sensors to project 3D images. The “interactive holographic display” may eventually be incorporated into iPhones and iPads. Naturally, wherever Samsung and Apple go, Microsoft will never be far behind, and the American company has already unveiled its “HoloLens” hologram computer. The “mixed reality” computer platform, which is worn like a VR headset, runs on Windows 10.

The development of 3D hologram technology by technology companies like Samsung could have a major knock-on effect for the 3D scanning and 3D printing industries. Although the Samsung patent suggests that potential holograms may represent menu icons and alerts, the ultimate goal of the technology must be for users to capture and share 3D images and videos themselves, to be displayed in 3D hologram form. The rise of holographic technology should therefore see a simultaneous rise in the demand for portable and compact 3D scanning technology, which would enable smartphone users to capture accurate 3D images.

A dramatic rise in the number 3D images and videos captured and shared by the general public would be great news for the 3D printing industry. Although many people harbor curiosity about 3D printing, few of those people would currently possess any 3D files to turn into 3D prints if given the opportunity. Holographic smartphones would see a rise in 3D files in various formats, which could likely be converted into STL format for immediate 3D printing.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge raised a few eyebrows this year, with the latter boasting a flexible display at the edges of the device. But could the Samsung Galaxy S7 really implement 3D hologram technology? Microsoft and Apple have already shown themselves to be serious about holographic technology, so it seems likely that we will see some form of holography on some smartphone in the future. Still, the recent Samsung patent should not be considered as a guarantee of imminent implementation. Patents ultimately help big companies to safeguard themselves in legal disputes, and locking down experimental technology is a necessary step that such firms must take, regardless of how committed they are to producing it on a mass scale. Personally, we hope that major technology firms bring 3D holograms to our smartphones as soon as they possibly can. After all, a hologram is the next best thing to a 3D print.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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Casey Czarnomski wrote at 12/30/2015 2:40:40 AM:

Forget stl as a file format. 3mf will be much better.



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