Here’s how RED’s holographic smartphone display will work

Cinematic camera maker RED has a smartphone on the way – the Hydrogen, which boasts a great video camera as well as a “holographic display” that we know relatively little about, despite MKBHD getting some hands-on time with the phone ahead of its release. Now, we know more because RED CEO Jim Jannard named HP Labs spin-out Leia Inc. as the display tech partner (via Engadget).

Leia’s technology works using light field technology, which stacks LCDs with backlights pointing in different directions. When you combine the angles of the backlight projecting the images on screen, you can produce 3D effects visible by the naked eye. Leia’s innovation is making this work while also keeping the traditional 2D display capabilities undisturbed, so that you can switch between both modes depending on what you’re viewing.

The major hangup for content viewable on the holographic screen might be on the content side, however – Jannard said that the smartphone will use a holographic format called .h4v to render 4D content on the screen. Creators can shoot 4 cameras simultaneously from different angles to capture these playable holographs, which seems like a steep requirement for amateurs, or by converting traditionally captured 2D or 3D content, though converting 2D content is quite difficult.

At the very least, this doesn’t sound like it will be quite as gimmicky as the holographic screen on Amazon’s Fire phone, which offered very little in the way of ‘wow’ factor. But it’s still going to be a niche product – unless you happen to be receiving an intergalactic SOS from the namesake of Leia Inc.’s brand.

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