Queen’s University Develops Holographic Flexible Smartphone

Published on: 2016/05/05 - in Featured Science & Tech

The Human Media Lab (HML) at Queen’s University has announced the development of the world’s first holographic flexible smartphone.

Coined as the “HoloFlex” by it creators, the phone is able to produce 3D images with motion parallax and a stereoscopy view to more than one user simultaneously without requiring special glasses or head tracking.

According to the HML – directed by Dr. Roel Vertegaal, Professor of HCI at the School of Computing – HoloFlex utilizes a 1920×1080 full high-definition Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) touchscreen display.

Images are rendered into 12-pixel wide circular blocks rendering the full view of the 3D object from a particular viewpoint. These pixel blocks project through a 3D printed flexible microlens array consisting of over 16,000 fisheye lenses. The resulting 160 x 104 resolution image allows users to view a 3D object from any angle simply by rotating the phone.

“HoloFlex offers a completely new way of interacting with your smartphone. It allows for glasses-free interactions with 3D video and images in a way that does not encumber the user.” said Dr. Vertegaal.

Dr. Vertegaal predicts there would be a wide variety of applications for the HoloFlex, including the creation and editing 3D models. The display’s wide view angle would additionally allow multiple users to simultaneously inspect the 3D object from different angles.

“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 phone could also can be used for holographic gaming. In a game such as Angry Birds – featured in HML’s video demo embedded below – players would bend the side of the display to pull the elastic rubber band that launches the bird. When the bird sails across the screen, the holographic display makes the bird appear to pop out of the screen in the third dimension.

Queen’s researchers will be unveiling the HoloFlex in San Jose, California at the top conference in Human-Computer Interaction, ACM CHI 2016, on Monday May 9th.

The Holoflex builds on the capabilities of HML’s earlier announced ReFlex flexible smartphone, likewise featuring a bend sensor, which enables the user to bend the phone as a way to move objects along the z-axis of the display. It is also powered by a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and 2 GB of memory. The board runs Android 5.1 and includes an Adreno 430 GPU supporting OpenGL 3.1.

This research was supported by Immersion Canada Inc. and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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Photo source: Human Media Lab