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Star Wars-like 3D projectors may be coming to smartphones sooner than you think

Published Jun 3rd, 2014 6:00PM EDT
3D Hologram Projector Chip
Image: Ostendo

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Earlier this year, we revealed that Amazon is working on a phone that uses multiple cameras to make its screen look 3D. While this may sound like something that will bring us one step closer to Star Wars–esque holograms, it will be much different because the 3D image would clearly be under the phone’s display. However, one company from California is working to go a step further, and according to a profile by the Wall Street Journal, we may see its 3D projector that can fit into smartphones and living rooms as soon as the end of next year.

The company, Ostendo Technologies Inc., is working on advanced chips that combine image processing and light projection to create 3D images. The Journal was able to see a prototype that combined six of the chips to produce a 3D image of spinning green dice. According to the Journal, “the image and motion appeared consistent, irrespective of the position of the viewer.”

What’s most amazing about this chip is how small it is. At 0.5 cubic centimeters, it is about the same size as a Tic Tac and can fit into smartphones. The chip isn’t available yet, but the company hopes to have a 2D projector chip available by the summer of 2015, and a 3-D projector chip available by the second half of 2015. Ostendo estimates that it will cost $30.

Ostendo clearly has large plans for their 3D technology and company founder Dr. Hussein S. El-Ghoroury told the Journal that “over the years, processing power has improved and networks have more bandwidth, but what is missing is comparable advancement in display.”

“Imagine if everything coming back to you was in 3D—all of your shopping, all of your gaming, every way you retrieve data,” El-Ghoroury said.

The company has received over $120 million in funding, including some from Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first outside investor, and from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Ostendo also has over 100 patents to its name.