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article imageThis flexible smartphone has a holographic 3D display

By James Walker     May 6, 2016 in Technology
Researchers have built a smartphone that features a holographic display capable of showing 3D images without wearing glasses. The phone has a flexible body that can be curved and bent into different positions. Different commands are triggered by flexing.
The smartphone was built by the Human Media Lab at Queen's University. Dubbed the HoloFlex, the handset is the world's first holographic flexible smartphone. It can display 3D holographic images without the viewer wearing glasses, allowing several different people to observe the screen at the same time.
The centrepiece of the phone is its Full HD (1920x1080) resolution display. Built from Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) technology, the screen converts images into circular 12-pixel wide blocks before projecting them through a flexible array of 16,000 fisheye lenses. This creates a 160x104 pixel image for each block, constructing a complete 3D object that can viewed from any angle by rotating the phone.
"HoloFlex offers a completely new way of interacting with your smartphone," said Dr. Vertegaal, a researcher who developed the display. "It allows for glasses-free interactions with 3D video and images in a way that does not encumber the user."
The phone's flexible display can be bent and squeezed. These actions can be detected by software, allowing users to control their device using physical gestures. It could expand existing apps with new interactions and pave the way for new kinds of smartphone experiences. The team has considered several different potential uses for the technology. The bend gestures can be used to make it easier to manipulate 3D models, allowing for easier editing of the Z-axis for 3D printing. The X- and Y-axes can be altered by swiping the display. A squeeze moves an object along the X-axis.
Prototype flexible holographic smartphone developed by Queen s University
Prototype flexible holographic smartphone developed by Queen's University
Queen's University
The display could also enhance gaming experiences. In Angry Birds, a player could bend the edge of the screen to pull back the catapult used to propel the bird across the screen. The bird would appear to pop out of the display as it flew, using the holographic element of the headset.
Alternatively, a HoloFlex-equipped smartphone could bring more features to video calls. "By employing a depth camera, users can also perform holographic video conferences with one another," said Dr. Vertegaal. "When bending the display users literally pop out of the screen and can even look around each other, with their faces rendered correctly from any angle to any onlooker."
The prototype handset demonstrated by the team is based on aging hardware that would be upgraded in a production handset. It is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, an Adreno 430 graphics processor, 2GB of system memory and Android 5.1 Lollipop.
The research was supported by Immersion Canada Inc. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The team will be fully unveiling HoloFlex on Monday at the ACM CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, California. The leading event focuses on human-computer interaction methods.
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