Samsung Researchers Open a New Chapter in Holographic Displays

Holograms have fascinated people since their invention in 1947. The incredible feature of holograms is that they allow you to observe the virtual world as real. They have long been considered the most advanced way to depict objects with light, but their widespread commercialization is still held back by technological limitations.

(Left to right) Chief Researcher, Samsung Advanced Research and Development Institute (SAIT) Jungkwuen An, Staff Scientist Kanghee Won and Hong-Seok Lee
(Left to right) Chief Researcher, Samsung Advanced Research and Development Institute (SAIT) Jungkwuen An, Staff Scientist Kanghee Won, and Hong-Seok Lee

Seeking ways to use holograms in a wider range of fields, researchers at Samsung’s Advanced Research and Development Institute (SAIT), which have long recognized the limitless potential of holograms, have begun to explore the development of holographic displays.1… After eight years of work, the team of scientists has published an article on Thin Panel Holographic Video Displays in the world renowned scientific journal Nature Communications.

What does SAIT research mean for the study and development of holograms, and how can this technology be applied to people’s daily lives? These and other questions from Samsung Newsroom were answered by expert Hong Seok Lee from Samsung Institute for Advanced Research and Development, Chief Researcher Jeong Kwen Ahn and Staff Researcher Kang Hee Won.

Create realistic objects with light

Holograms are capable of displaying objects that do not exist in reality. In terms of image quality, they are similar to the high-resolution displays that are widely used in people’s daily lives. The key difference between the two relates to working with light. “A conventional display conveys an image through the intensity of light, and the hologram controls not only the intensity but also the phase, making the images appear three-dimensional,” explained Hong Seok Lee.

According to Jeong Kwen An, the main reason holographic displays are considered the optimal form of 3D display is how people perceive depth. “The human eye uses a variety of signals for depth perception, stereoscopic vision, focus adjustment and motion parallax2, to recognize the depth of the object, – said An. “Most 3D imaging techniques only provide some of these signals, but the hologram unites them all. It perfectly reproduces objects with light, creating images that look as realistic as physical objects. “

Chief Scientist Jeong Quen An.
Chief Scientist Jeong Quen An.

The road to commercial use of holograms

The potential of holograms is wide and varied, from virtual visits to hospitals by quarantined patients to the creation of virtual navigation signals and even projections of ancient artifacts. However, before this technology can be used in more areas, researchers need to remove one of the biggest obstacles to widespread commercialization, related to the correlation between screen size and viewing angle.

One of the key limitations of hologram technology is that the field of view becomes narrower when the screen is enlarged. This means that if a 2 x 1 mm Full HD holographic display has a 30 ° viewing angle, then increasing the hologram size to 200 x 100 mm will narrow the viewing angle to 0.3 °.

Staff Scientist Kang Hee Won
Staff Scientist Kang Hee Won

To solve this problem, a group of SAIT scientists studying holographic displays has developed a special optical element – a controlled illumination unit (S-BLU). As Kang Hee Won explained, “The S-BLU consists of a thin panel-shaped light source called a coherent backlight unit (C-BLU) that converts the incident light into a collimated beam, as well as a deflector that can adjust the incident light to suit your needs. angle. A typical 10-inch 4K screen offers a very small 0.6 ° viewing angle. But this figure can be increased by about 30 times by tilting the image towards the viewer using the S-BLU. “

In an effort to solve the viewing angle problem, SAIT has created a new kind of holographic display with a thin flat panel, just like those on the market today. Another notable achievement of the scientists’ work is a new method for creating real-time 4K holographic images using a single-chip field programmable gate array (FPGA)3 for computing. This is done through what is known as “layer by layer” calculation, while most methods use a process known as “point cloud calculation”.

Thanks to real-time computation on FPGA, the new method optimizes the algorithm, preventing information loss. These advances, Lee said, can help apply holograms to many aspects of daily life. “We have developed a seamless system to enable commercialization of holograms, from creation to display,” Lee said.

The future of displays

While the idea of ​​holograms becoming part of everyday life is certainly mesmerizing, the researchers emphasize that technology still has a long way to go before holograms look like those seen in sci-fi movies. This is due to the fact that for everyday use of holograms, not only displays are needed, but also holographic content, devices for holographic imaging and the ability to transfer huge amounts of data that will generate holograms.

However, as Vaughn noted, in a number of contexts, this technology may begin to appear in our lives soon. “For example, holograms can be used for things like keyboards or even holographic menus,” he said. “As holograms become more prevalent, we will also begin to see an increase in the use of contactless user interfaces based on finger gestures, voice, eye tracking, brain wave recognition, and other input formats.”

Expert Hong Suk Lee
Expert Hong Suk Lee

In their paper, the scientists suggest that the introduction of a new framework for holographic displays will be the key to removing the most important obstacle to the commercialization of the technology. “We will continue to make every effort to create holograms as the future of displays,” concluded Lee.

1 An image created using hologram technology is called a holographic image. The device that produces holographic images is called a holographic display.

2 Parallax of motion refers to the fact that objects moving at a constant speed appear to move faster if they are closer to the observer, and slower if they are farther from them.

3 FPGA is a type of programmable semiconductor without memory. Unlike conventional semiconductors, whose circuitry cannot be changed, FPGAs can be reprogrammed to achieve the desired goal.

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