The Holovect Mk II is a self-contained laser-based volumetric display system that fits on your lab bench or desktop. It is the perfect companion to a 3D printer and a stand-alone educational or promotional device. The Holovect Mk II is the first commercially available, laser-based desktop “holographic” display, capable of drawing 3D objects in air with light.
Holovect images are NOT holograms but instead volumetric vector images projected onto modified air (i.e. projections in space). This distinction is due to the fact that a hologram is a recording of interference patterns on film or glass plates that contains three-dimensional information about an object (greek root “holo” means whole or complete, and “gram” means record). However, since Holovect images contain three dimensional information and are free-floating objects in air, they are most certainly holographic. They are real 3-D projections.
So how does it work? The principles are simple. When light travels between two different mediums in most cases you get three different effects to some degree: refraction (bending), reflection, and/or diffusion, depending on the different “refractive index” (RI) of the materials. An example of this are mirages, which occur when a portion of air has a different RI than its surroundings, causing light beams to bend and be reflected in unexpected ways. This can happen because of temperature or pressure differences from one region to the next.
With the holovect technology, we have invented how to control air within a box shaped section of space to precisely modify the RI within specific regions to refract and reflect a laser beam. This modification raises the “albedo” which is defined as the proportion of the incident light that is reflected by a surface, as well as the refractive properties at the boundary between the modified and unmodified air. Therefore by simultaneously controlling the aim of the laser and the position of a modified air column, a computer can place a volumetric pixel or voxel of light anywhere in 3D space. Then by keeping a laser beam on as it aims from point A to point B a line is drawn which is a 3D vector, and by joining many vectors in a sequence a holographic vector object can be generated. The Holovect Mk II is capable of drawing a complete image 50 times per second within
a 12cm by 12cm by 12cm cube we call the “drawbox”. Outside of this box things get messy, unpredictable and, in general, not useful.
“Vect” objects are the data-structure developed for the Holovect. Put simply it is a list of 3D coordinates that result in lines drawn in a head-to-tail sequence in space, which are compiled into vect class objects. The files are straightforward and easy to create using a variety of online tools, spreadsheets, or good old pencil and graph paper. Once loaded, vects can be rotated in three axes and moved around within the cubic canvas. These objects can be manipulated using the control knob, preset functions such as spin and move, or used within your own applications.
3-D printing pre-visualizer and Applications
Holovect Mk II can be used to visualize CAD models in STL format before 3D printing. This can be done in two ways: importing STL files and convert them to vect format, or visualized directly. Depending on the desired visualization, converting the STL will result in a volumetric wireframe projection, whereas direct STL visualization slices the model into layers which is ideal to inspect for potential manufacturing errors and revise inner structure in hollow parts before printing. This volumetric pre-visualization ability increases design and manufacturing efficiency by saving time and printing material before committing to a long printing process.
Other applications include the visualization of 3D data acquired through a 3D scanner, or a computed tomography scan. Commercial applications could also include advertising and branding.
As the community grows, our open source software philosophy will allow users to create applications that take advantage of Holovect’s glasses-free, touchable volumetric display. Games, tools and art applications are all in the works and should be available to users by shipping time. Moreover, the hardware will accommodate any advancements in 3D image capture and creation.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is producing enough units to keep costs low and maintain a large community of content creators. Your contributions will help our efforts and push this nascent technology further than even our imaginations can predict.
We have spent a year redesigning and streamlining the product and production line. We are ready to put considerable amount of units into the hands of developers, early adopters and enthusiasts. Help us make Holovect the standard of holographic volumetric displays.