As 3D printing allows us to journey into a vast and seemingly infinite new world of creation, far beyond what most of us ever imagined, many things, although in current use, still seem like the technology of the future. Holographs definitely fit into that category and still send most of us–in our minds–into the sci-fi and Disney zones, generally far out of our league for home projects. We have seen several makers already experimenting with techniques to “3D print” using light.
Not an easy technology to master, obviously, holographs and holograms have typically been relegated to high budget special effects. And while they certainly take our breath away and wow a crowd, it’s not something most people can pull off creating on their own. That’s not the case for innovator Jaime Ruiz-Avila however, and now he wants to share what he’s created with everyone who has an interest and is ready to make what some might consider to be a moderate investment at $700.
Just launched on Kickstarter, the Holovect is a new machine that projects customizable interactive images into the air–but you may be surprised to find out how it works. Shooting out modified and ‘extra-reflective air,’ the device sends concentrated light into the same area to construct a 3D image.
“As kids, we were promised flying cars, holographic projectors, and four course meals in pill form by now,” states Ruiz-Avila on his Kickstarter campaign. “We’ve been inundated with bad imitations of volumetric images: from cellophane reflections of rappers to computer faux-holograms in the newsroom. None of these are true 3D projections.”
Ruiz-Avila likens his Holovect technology, short for holographic vector display, to painting the air with a laser, and this machine is meant as a great device for those just beginning to explore holography.
“Light is one of the things that are really important to me, and this is really just an application of physics, and computer science,” says Ruiz-Avila.
The images (all in green) are basically repeated over and over, being drawn at a rate of 33 times every second in order to make the image. What’s amazing is that these images are being projected from a machine small enough to sit on your desk, generating images ten meters away. While this concept is sufficiently mind-boggling in its own right, the creator sees it as just the beginning.
“I could see us scaling up very large to several meters,” said Ruiz-Avila. “The whole idea we had was to make a small unit people could experiment with.”
Meant for the individual, as well as more industrial projects, the machine can not only project a single image but can be used to combine several, as well as even displaying and moving objects similar to the rudimentary–but always fun–Pong. The images can be viewed by several people from different angles, and you are able to upload them directly via WiFi or USB.
“It is a true volumetric display like you’ve seen in movies and science fiction for so long,” says Ruiz-Avila. “I can see a future where every toggle to every control you have is going to be a projected volumetric entity. You’ll have buttons. You’ll have signs.”
The holographic technology can be used to create landscapes, scenery, and designs, all of which Ruiz-Avila finds to be much more communicative than just 3D printing a model that sits in front of you. Connecting via USB, all the tools you need to start are included in the box.
“We started experimenting, [and] after many, many attempts we achieved a single voxel, floating in mid-air,” he said. “By itself, it didn’t look like much, but it could truly move in the X, Y, and Z-axes. We knew that if we could draw a dot, we could draw a line. Once we could draw lines, we could draw anything.”
With the device, you can display images through creating your own code, as well as uploading images.
“Using our Holvect SDK you can manipulate these objects with simple commands like rotate, scale, orient and move. Once you create them you can incorporate them in your programs,” says Ruiz-Avila on Kickstarter. “If you don’t want to mess with coding your own, you can create your vector objects and manipulate them using our built in functions and a growing library of 3D vector objects.”
For the experienced coder, this product offers a world of fun as well, offering them the opportunity to code in C, C++, Python, and Arduino or Eclipse IDE’s. Within this ‘truly geometric programming environment,’ users can look forward to making a range of utilities, games, and more. You can also connect it to your smartphone or PC, due to WiFi and Bluetooth compatibility. The machine itself contains an Intel Edison IoT processor, as well as 1GB of RAM and 4GB of on-board storage, allowing users to create a variety of applications.
Hoping to reach a goal of $350,000 by January 8th, those who pledge on Kickstarter can receive order the ‘Maker’s Kit’ for only $580 and 3D print their own Holovect, upon receipt of the plans and files for laser cutting and 3D printing all the necessary parts, plus all of the electronics and components. This, and all the kits, are expected to be delivered in May 2016.
For $700, supporters receive the Holovect kit, easy and ready to assemble. Also included is early access to the SDK and membership in the Vect Design Workshop. At the $1450 level, you can even have a fully assembled Holovect delivered to your door, in April. If you prefer to take it to the special edition level, for $2250, you can order the signed and numbered Holovect, available in Cupertino Brushed Aluminum (Blue Laser) or Super Retro Mahogany and Ebony–fully turnkey.