Holograms and distorted reality devices (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality) have been all the rage over the past few years. Whether they’ve served as a neat party trick, a way to engage with others, offered a new perspective for 3D artist and designers, or become the next most popular way people visit concerts, they’ve made a sizable dent on the landscape of interaction and socialization.
Many of these devices offer different spins on the classic science-fiction dream technology that many of us grew up with: A Three-Dimensional holographic display that you can interact with using hand motions and natural gestures. We’re getting close, for sure, but many recent attempts have been falling further away from that core vision. Whether it’s expansive, room-sized holographic systems that cost 40 to 50 thousand dollars and could only ever be implemented by larger companies or more personal experiences that cost less money but require clunky headgear and numerous cameras, the dream seems both closer and further away than ever before.
And while it’s still far from perfect – It’s not full, free-standing 3D – The Looking Glass offers users a return to that dream in the form of a holographic device priced with the individual consumer in mind, and operated freely. No headgear required.
The device is a small glass screen a little smaller than a fishbowl that offers about 180 degrees of three-dimensional magic to any user at any time. Users can interact with the objects behind the glass in a number of ways, but the simplest and most intuitive way to see the 3D effect is to simply pick up the screen and look at the object from different angles, which works exactly as it would if were you holding a fish in a fishbowl – you see different parts of the thing in the glass.
There’s also a few other ways of interacting with whatever you decide to put in your looking glass, however. Users can employ hand motions to drag and rotate the items, and if creators put enough time into the modeling process, they can even cause special hand motions to result in special actions.
For example, one of the items modeled in 3D is a stone statue of a person wearing a VR headset. To visually represent the “no headgear required” aspect of the device, a user reaches their hand in front of the glass and makes a grasping motion to take control of a virtual mallet. They then swipe their hand from side to side, smashing the statue into dozens of realistic pieces.
In another example, a user tilts the entire glass panel on its side, and a large number of multicolored cubes come sliding down into frame.
While The Looking Glass seems to provide an interesting way for the average consumer to interact with new virtual toys, it also provides a way for creators to interact more closely with their creations. The glass will include its own personal sharing channel, and provide a toolset for any 3D artists who wish to design models for its interface. This could give artists a new medium to experiment with, and serve as a fresh plane in which new starts could rise to fame. It could also offer an inexpensive way for artists to become accustomed to creating objects that people enjoy digitally interacting with, since this age of holograms, VR and AR seems to be calling for a bigger and bigger network of artists experienced in the medium.
For those interested in grabbing some glass for themselves, the device is currently available on Kickstarter. The earliest reward that offers a device is the $400 Day Two Special, and subsequent tiers offer carrying cases, nodules for more precise motion control, additional devices, and more.
Featured Image via The Looking Glass Kickstarter Page