The Looking Glass Portrait is not so crazy an idea. Sony has just made its own 3D glasses-free (aka, autostereoscopic) holographic screen, but it costs as much as 5,000 dollars. The Looking Glass Portrait costs under $ 400. And in a way, we’ve been on this road before. The light field display is like a far more advanced Nintendo 3DS: Images can be viewed in a range of up to 100 angles, and video clips that play at up to 60 frames per second, but you have to stay in a certain area to see what’s there. I saw previous Pro Glass exhibits many years ago, and was instantly impressed with how strange the pictures really seemed to be there, almost real. The feeling of looking at the screens can be eerie. It feels like a small glass tank where the images flow like ghosts or captured holograms.
The Looking Glass Portrait can work alone, store up to 1000 3D scans or images, or can be paired with a Mac or PC. The monitor has its own PC and Mac software that converts your images into 3D images that look like Glass and loads them on the screen. Like previous-looking Glass monitors, which were aimed at professional or industrial use, it also works with a plug-in hand-tracking Leap Motion controller to reach into the monitor and control or move things as well.
The 7.9-inch 4: 3 screen has a resolution of 2,048×1,536 pixels, and in previous experiences with Looking Glass frames, the images are slightly lower than normal images. But the compromise with 3D depth and multiple viewing angles, and the way images feel projected into the glass, also creates a strange glowing surrealism. Looking Glass’ software already works with Unreal engine, Unity, Autodesk Maya and Blender.
Looking Glass Factory CEO Shawn Frayne sees these screens as stepping stones to holographic communicators. Depth-sensing cameras like iPhone’s TrueDepth camera, RealSense camera orbe able to record 3D videos that can be viewed on the Looking Glass Portrait, or sent to someone else with the screen. The cameras can also be used to appear animoji-like characters on screens.
No one is wearing holographic AR smart glasses yet, but this 3D view on your desktop can be another way to get one step closer to a Star Wars-like hologram popping up on your desktop for a chat. The screen is available for order now ($ 199 for early orders), but it will not ship until mid-2021, according to the Looking Glass Factory pre-order page.