The Looking Glass 3D display is now available as a touch screen standalone device.
Released back in 2018, the Looking Glass was an instant hit among 3D content creators. The next-generation 3D holographic display allows not one, but multiple users to view stereoscopic 3D content at the same time by generating 45 different views in which to enjoy the action.
Using an HDMI input, users connect their computer-of-choice to the device, at which point the Looking Glass becomes a second display for your PC; there’s also a USB-C port for controls. Once connected, users can upload a variety of 3D content—from models and animations to volumetric video—at 60FPS without the need of a VR headset.
Available now via LookingGlassFactory.com, the Looking Glass Pro ups the ante with a generous helping of upgrades. Whereas the Looking Glass is just a display, the Looking Glass Pro operates independently as a standalone device. Powered by a built-in NUC 8 VR NUC8i7HVK computer, the Pro allows users to upload 3D content onto the hardware directly and select what they wish to view via a fold-out 7-inch touchscreen display. The Pro edition also adds touchscreen functionality to the 15.6-inch primary display, including the ability to change the size, angle, and position of 3D visuals using common touch commands, such as pinch and drag.
Similar to the Standard and Large Looking Glass models, users can connect their computers to the Pro via USB-C to test new apps and display 3D content. Unlike the original models, however, users can download 3D models, animations, and volumetric video directly onto the device and access the content at any time without the need of a dedicated PC. This USB-C input can also be used to connect a variety of compatible controllers, including the Leap Motion tracker, Intel’s Realsense, even a Nintendo Joy-Con.
“Really the way I think of the looking glass is anytime you have virtual content that you can draw a bubble around—whether that’s a volumetric video of real people or a simulation of photosynthesis happening—those things happen in like a constrained bubble of space that can be ported to the Looking Glass really easily,” said Shawn Frayne, Co-founder and CEO at Looking Glass Factory, during an interview with VRScout at SIGGRAPH 2019. “Things that the looking glass isn’t really designed for is being a window into another world. I think the vision of VR and the vision of holograms and the looking glass are different and complementary in a lot of ways.”
As for potential use-case scenarios, Frayne highlights the Looking Glass Pro’s ability to select and display 3D content without the need of an external PC, which in his mind makes this the perfect device for those looking to showcase 3D models to a group without the need of multiple VR headsets; whether it be doctors looking for more accurate visualizations of the human body, or product designers looking to visualize their prototype before development, there’s no doubt that multiple industries and professions would find an immense amount of use for such a technology.
Not only that, but Frayne also believes that as volumetric video capture and light field technology continue to progress, the Looking Glass Pro will eventually become the ideal device for viewing past memories.
“Folks are gonna start to take their memories and have them live in the looking glass. While our focus right now is very much on developers and enterprise, there is a bigger vision for where the hologram can go as really the primary interface for holding people’s memories, showing any three dimensional content in medical or education contacts. And my view is that the Looking Glass will actually be the primary interface that people use for 3-D content over the next 20 or 30 years.”
“I think folks like to gather around things like campfires and radios and televisions and to do that in a natively real-world social context, sometimes you do need to see the rocket ship on the landing bay as if it’s really there and sometimes you need to gear up and walk down a virtual Waikiki Beach.”
“When you’re looking at a memory of your kids running around in volumetric video taken with the iPhone eleven or twelve—when it has that capability—my view is that this [the Looking Glass] will actually be the primary interface.”
With Adobe currently in development of its own 3D light field display, Project Glasswing, it’ll be interesting to see how 3D display technology continues to expand as more companies begin offering their own solutions.
The Looking Glass Pro is now available for shipping worldwide at $6,000 and is compatible with both Unity and Unreal Engine, as well as a handful of 3D modeling and printing applications. Users can upload multiple file formats, including OBJ, gITF, GLB, and STL. The Standard Looking Glass is available for $599 along with Large Looking Glass at $3,000.
Image Credit: Phoebe Cheong, The Looking Glass Factory