Holographic polaroids 📷

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Hi all, this is Shawn.

Over the coming months, I plan to write about all of my invention adventures at Looking Glass, where a team of us are in an epic crusade to realize the dream of the hologram.

I’ll also be writing about invention dreams beyond holograms. From our family’s quest to make the world’s biggest bubble, to prototypes of socks designed to help you moonwalk in 30 minutes or less, to my biggest invention regret — not disrupting the global market for conventional bubble wrap with an inflate-on-demand version, Wonderfil, back in 2005. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

This post is about another inventor in the family, my brother Ryan.

He became pretty well-known a few years ago after an appearance on Shark Tank, where his invention of a self-inflating sleeping mat caused a rare “shark feeding frenzy”, where all of the sharks gave him an offer.

Ryan passed away from pancreatic cancer pretty soon after that appearance, and naturally photos of Ryan are extraordinarily special to me now.

Out of all of my photos of me and my brother, this is my favorite. Circa 1985 in Florida, after catching a fish in the lake in the backyard.

But a photo is flat. And to quote a friend, I don’t want to live like a cockroach. I’m not satisfied with flat two-dimensional memories as we approach 2024. I want more.

I want that photo to come alive, like a Harry Potter photo, where the memory isn’t flat and impenetrable, but is more like a little window that I can look through, back into that moment.

Luckily, I run a hologram company, and we’ve figured out how to do this.

By imagining what that photo would have looked like in 3D, as if it were originally captured in 3D, our software can then approximate the way millions of rays of light would have bounced off of me, my brother, and that fish we just caught.

The field is accelerating with new amazing AI-powered depth generation techniques coming out all the time. Here I’m showing the newest, Marigold, from ETH Zurich, that I was playing around with right before writing this post. We use a slightly different technique in our official software.

Then we can display it spatially, in 3D, with a device we created called Looking Glass Go, that can steer those millions of rays of light in the directions they would have been going back there at the lake.

To paraphrase Don Draper, this isn’t a photograph any more — it’s a time machine.


We officially call these Instant Single Shot Holograms, but I think of them as holographic polaroids. And if you can take a photo, you can do this too.

I’ll be posting more about this new world of spatial photography in its many forms over the coming few weeks. In the meantime, if you want to join THE community building this holographic future, you can get your own Looking Glass Go and look back into those moments that are the most special to you.

I’m amazed we made this thing.

The headline I always dreamed of.

Stay engaged.

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