The word “hologram” gets thrown around a lot when we’re talking about 3D imagery, but it’s rare we deal with actual holograms: diffraction-encoded recordings of light fields. An autostereoscopic parallax barrier screen doesn’t display proper holograms, nor even does Microsoft’s inappropriately named HoloLens. However, today we look at a new patent from Samsung that actually follows through on the promise of holographic screen tech, bringing holographic icons to a smartphone’s display.
Samsung describes a method for embedding a series of holographic icons in a smartphone’s display panel, which can selectively be illuminated by means of an internal light guide.
While the system may offer users real 3D holograms, it’s not without its drawbacks, chief among those being that it appears limited to static pre-configured holographic icons. That is, this won’t replace a dynamic pixel-based screen. Instead, the holographic icons could be used for certain preset routines, like a hologram that would function much in the same way as a notification LED, letting users know about incoming messages. That might make it a lot less interesting than the sort of space-filling holographic display you might in a sci-fi film, but it’s also a design that sounds nearly practical enough for Samsung to actually try building a phone around.