Monday, 02 October 2017

Print a Hologram with a Regular Inkjet Printer

Photo: PetaPixelPrinter and printing technology continues to amaze and abound with brilliant ideas that bring to life what was otherwise thought impossible. Between 3D printed food, homes and prosthetics, to “printing” videos that use augmented reality (AR) to bring photos to life, the printer world and its technological advances never cease to bring some really cool tech to the world.

Lumii is one such company who is changing the printing game by developing a way of printing full colour hologram-like prints that provide a 3D experience without the use of glasses. The cool part is these light-prints can be printed off a regular inkjet printer!

Creators Matthew Hirsch, Thomas A. Baran, and Daniel Leithinger sought to remove the barriers commonly associated with 3D experiences (like glasses and cost) and make the technology more readily accessible so multiple people can share in the same experience simultaneously.

Rather than using traditional optics, the Lumii Light Field Engine uses algorithms to take a 3D scan or 3D model like something created in AutoCAD and turns the file into special patterns. These patterns can be printed on regular equipment like an inkjet or laser printer you’d have at home. When these special patterns are printed and layered on top of one another and lit from behind, a 3D effect is the result, like a hologram.

Light field prints are different from traditional holograms however, in that they use a ray-based description of the display surface rather than a wave-based description. Using light fields, Lumii’s light field prints reproduce virtual depth via features that are many orders of magnitude larger than those in holograms.

Lumii displayed their technology at the 2016 Siggraph show, creating light field selfie souvenirs for those willing to sit down and have their faces scanned. And the results are uber impressive. This video from ElecticTV features an interview with Co-Founder and CEO Tom Baran and shows the tech in action:

While the technology is not available to the public as of yet, Lumii is running a small alpha program allowing content creators to put this new printing medium to the test.

Lumii envisions the technology helping all industries, for example helping doctors to more rapidly diagnose patients with the ability to visualize MRI data in 3D, helping architects gain a greater understanding of building plans, and of course, allowing advertisers and artists a new medium in which to capture audiences.