Samsung is no longer the one only mobile holography game in town. Only a few short months after a patent application revealed that the Seoul-based electronics giant is experimenting with miniaturized projection technology that could allow its phones to display content several inches ahead of the screen, cross-city rival LG has filed over a dozen concept designs with the same capability.
Both companies’ interest in the field can be traced back roughly three and a half years to the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy’s designation of mobile holography as a strategic priority for the domestic technology industry, which has no doubt translated into good bit of support behind the scenes. LG’s patent filing provides the biggest hint yet of what we can expect to come out of the collaboration.
The designs in the application split into two types, with the implementation illustrated above falling under the first and most practical category in which the holographic projector is installed on the back of the device. That placement takes advantage of the space available below the rear-facing camera to maintain the smooth form factor of the case but comes at the expense of usability.
In most of the situations where you’d prefer a hologram over the flat display, having to hold the phone face-down for the duration of the clip or animation you’re viewing could present a major inconvenience, not to mention severely restrict the usefulness of the capability. That’s where the second series of designs comes into play, which implements the projector at the front.
One model employs a detachable micro-USB hologram generator that plugs into the side of your device to convert content from the screen in a three-dimensional form, while another uses a thin transparent cover reminiscent of the flip-phone era that is somewhat bulkier but allows you to choose the angle in which that content is shown.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy wants to see mobile holograms hitting the market by 2020, but the technology is likely to become available much sooner judging by the sheer amount of work that LG and Samsung are putting into their respective commercialization efforts. The only question now is which of the South Korean titans will reach the finish line first.