July 6, 2017 Last Updated 1:22 pm

High-end camera maker RED announces smartphone with ‘hydrogen holographic display’

The new 5.7″ smartphone will run the Android mobile OS and comes in two pretty expensive models that can be pre-ordered: one at $1195, the other at $1595

Many years ago, on a business trip to McGraw-Hill headquarters in New York to be interviewed for a publisher position (I got it), I was able to visit the holography museum in Soho. Located at 11 Mercer Street, the museum closed in 1992 after nearly 16 years of operation, but it left quite an impression on me.

After walking through its exhibits I was absolutely positive that the future of film, and likely television, was holographic. To hell with 3D and its glasses, real holography would be a thing.

It wasn’t, and 3D TVs came (and pretty much went), and today we have VT and AR.

But the lesson I learned was that not to immediately assume a technology will win, or that there is relevance to publishers, unless that technology aligns with current practices. So, for instance, I was immediately enthusiastic about digital editions as I saw the potential for both cost savings, and product enhancements.

VR, 3D and the like are interesting, exciting for some, but they miss that one element of importance to me, the ability to continue to do what I am currently doing, but at less cost.

This is a long way of introducing an interesting press release from RED, the company that makes high-end cameras for shooting high-resolution digital video. For some reason, the company has decided to launch an Android phone.

Called the Hydrogen One, the 5.7″ holographic display will not require the owner to use another device to enjoy 3D content — no glasses, no headset, as the press release states.

I think this is all really cool, in a 1991 (the year I went to the holography museum) kind of way. Meaning, I don’t see this going anywhere, if my experience is to mean anything.

For one thing, the new phone comes in two models — one is aluminum and costs $1195, the other titanium and costs $1595. Also, RED says the pricing is available for a limited time only, which means the price might go up, not down (the sign that a product has caught on a productions can decrease).

Also, there remains the issue of content. Where is it, and will it be worth it? As the phone is only on pre-order now, for 2018 delivery, maybe things will change in a hurry (and maybe not).

Still, a lot of publishers see AR and VR as the next shiny new thing, so no doubt a few may take notice. I’m still waiting for the first full length holographic feature film to show up at my local cinema. I’m still waiting, 26 years later.

Here is the press release from RED (PDF).

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