Red Digital Cinema’s Hydrogen holographic smartphone project is proceeding on schedule according to the latest Reduser.net update posted by Jim Jannard earlier this week. In the January 22 posting, Jannard said that both he and Red’s Jarred Land are using Hydrogen One as their current phones.
But like any modern phone, it’s not just a phone — it’s also a camera. And the company says it’s not just any camera, either. According to Jannard, users will be able to capture stereo 3D video in what’s called “4V” format (alongside a flat 2D version) using both front- and rear-facing cameras.
Red previously announced that the Hydrogen One will start at $1,195, and Jannard is now promising “unprecedented” carrier support, which presumably means you’ll be able to get service through the provider of your choice. Phones locked to specific carriers should be available sometime in the summer, Jannard wrote, while unlocked phones will ship sooner.
“If we never sell one phone, I am totally happy,” Jannard wrote. “We both have exactly what we wanted.”
Light-Field Display Tech from Leia
We’ve learned a few things about the Hydrogen project since it was first announced last July. Most significantly, Red revealed that it was investing in Menlo Park, CA-based Leia as part of an exclusive partnership bringing Leia’s light-field display technology to market as part of the Hydrogen One smartphone design.
Jannard, who now sits on Leia’s board of directors, said this week that the display will operate in a standard 2D mode as well as in the holographic 4V mode, in which the screen’s image will have the illusion of depth. “There is no way to describe this,” Jannard wrote this week, but then took a stab at it anyway. “The horizontal resolution of 2D is now split into depth layers,”he wrote. “It gives a completely different feeling. All the pixels are there… but instead of “looking at” a pic, you are immersed in the image. It is quite spectacular. As a resolution guy, I absolutely prefer watching 4V over 2D.”
The three-dimensional imagery will be accompanied by what Jannard described as “multichannel spatial sound,” which is said to offer a similarly rich experience.
Slim and light are not differentiating features for the new phone. Jannard admitted that it will be heavier (about two ounces) and bigger (a few millimeters) than competing phones. It comes with a big (4500mA) battery, Jannard said, to facilitate image capture.
The Hydrogen Network: All Things 4V
Red is currently showing prototype models to potential partners for something called the Hydrogen Network, Red’s attempt to become a single-source clearinghouse for all content created for 4V display. Red has had its eyes on content delivery before — back in 2013, it tried unsuccessfully to kickstart a 4K content distribution network via its Redray 4K player and never-released laser projector.
If you’re dying to see Hydrogen in action, keep your eyes peeled for a promised “Hydrogen Day,” likely to take place at Red Studios sometime in April. (It seems likely that NAB visitors will get a chance to preview the technology as well, though Jannard didn’t say one way or another.)