Hottest Thing on #FedUC Floor: Zebra Imaging’s Holograms

I visited the Zebra Imaging booth in part because of the kind and respectful e-mail I received from the company. But I also noted the Esri imaging team was in the booth for a really long time last night!

The company offers holograms, printing on basically a plastic film. The data can come from any 3D dataset you can visualize on a computer: imagery, LiDAR or as they were showing off here data from ArcGIS. The 3D holograms come in two flavors: green scale (that’s the older technology) and color (that’s really new). The former work best with a green light and the later with white light (LED preferred). And, the holograms are awesome! You want to reach out and touch the buildings and mountains!

Cost is about $500 per sq foot color and $300 in green scale (about the same cost as a 3D printed model), slightly more for color. The printing takes a few hours and is done by lasers. But, unlike the physical models, these plastic sheets travel well and don’t break. And, they can include things that hang down over the scene, like electric wires. Those can’t be made in the physical printed “sand castle” one’s since there’s nothing to hang them from!

These are thoroughly georeferenced so that when you look at the hologram from one side and point to something, someone viewing from the other side see the exact same location. You can even mark them up, but the markup is “on the ground.” The tech came from the MIT Media Lab and so far as the staff knows, they are the only company making it available.

And, here’s a cool thing: you can print the hologram so certain objects, say a building, are only visible from one direction of viewing. That way you can present two different “views” of the situation, for one price!

The vision is these can be used for visualization of 3D (no glasses needed!). As you might expect the military is a big user, but the plan is get these holograms into civilian hands.

The company was giving away little tiny hand-sized holograms with flashlights as samples. Everyone wanted one! If these folks are at the next event you attend, do visit!

Published Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Written by Adena Schutzberg