Not only are hologram displays a fixture of futuristic movies and TV shows, they're up there with hoverboards and flying cars as some of the most highly coveted imaginary technologies. From the Pepper's Ghost illusion that brought Tupac back from the dead and threw M.I.A. across the world, to the water screen projection that summoned 40-foot models to a Ralph Lauren fashion show, we've seen facsimiles of the hologram projector, but few that come close to the real thing. Thanks to a design company called Bleen, however, a working hologram projector might soon be coming to your living room.
Bleen purports their new device to be "the practical and portable 3D Projection System that works without glasses or the need for any other devices" in their IndieGogo advertisement (watch it below). The promo features happy young professionals working and playing with holographic business apps, DJs, and video games—and even a floating 3D game of Scrabble. Sure, it looks an awful lot like the hologram projector that Leia used to summon her only hope. But is it for real?
For one thing, it isn't vaporware: in a press release, Bleen Inc. CEO Bogdan Shevchuk states that the "ultimate goal is to bring a real consumer product to the market that enables everyone to watch 3D content in spatial quality." Well-known innovators in both holography and filmmaking are part of the San Francisco-based company's team, including Vladmir Titar and IndieGogo verified Oleg Kokhan, lending credibility to their device's scheduled Octover 2015 rollout.
For one thing, the technology Bleen will use to create content for their device appears to be legitimate: captured with hundreds of high-resolution video cameras combined with motion capture reconstruction software using a concept proven by Carnegie-Melon University earlier this year, and which innovators like Kevin Margo are already putting to use in more traditional film settings, movies, sporting events, and performances alike will all be fodder for the Bleen. The holographic display runs on "Bleen OS," according to the specifications section on IndieGogo, and Bleen, Inc has already begun building an app store for their future products, which they project will range from fitness apps through video games and virtual personalities.
For their actual projection process, a combination of fast-pulsed lasers, illumination, and a projection lens with a metasurface provide Bleen's answer to Hatsune Miku's plastic projection surface and Jason Akira Somma's holographic mist. While we haven't seen an actual demonstration of the spatialized projector at work, these technologies aren't just conceptual: scientific researchers working in holography have vetted each moving part that comprises the Bleen. In addition, the aesthetics of Bleen's two models have been carefully thought out. "The devices are pieces of art," the company writes in the IndieGogo's FAQ. "Bleen Birth was inspired by sculptor Jeff Koons. Bleen Rock was inspired by paintings of Sarah Morris."
There's only one thing to consider before dropping the $225 donation needed to reserve your own copy: a disclaimer in Bleen's legal section reads, "Bleen disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, including any warranties of accuracy, non-infringement, merchantability and fitness for a specific purpose." But this same sort of disclaimer, present on websites including CNN and Encyclopædia Britannica, hasn't stopped a hundred IndieGogo apostles from hopping on the holographic bandwagon, giving bleen a Bleen $19,330 headstart towards their $225,000 goal.
Last week we finally got the hoverboard we've always wanted, and maybe we'll have a virtual Marty McFly to go with it soon. Oleg Kokhan said in the press release, "We want to unite ideas that are presented only in science fiction with technologies from leading backrooms to bring the market an advanced product that is second to none." We're excited to see whether Bleen turns out to be science fiction or science fact, and as of right now, it looks like flying cars just moved to the bottom of our holiday wish list.