Mobile Technology

RED launches a $1,200 "holographic" smartphone, due in 2018

RED launches a $1,200 "holographic" smartphone, due in 2018
Our only look at the RED Hydrogen
Our only look at the RED Hydrogen
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Our only look at the RED Hydrogen
Our only look at the RED Hydrogen

We're on the cusp of some serious virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tech arriving in our smartphones, and RED has got ahead of the competition by announcing a 2018 model that it says will display 3D holographic images, no glasses required.

With just a brief splash page to its name, the Hydrogen phone is mostly hype and promise right now, but RED has a solid reputation as a high-end camera maker, so if any company can pull this off then it might be RED.

The specs sheet speaks for itself really: "This incredible retina-riveting display advancement features nanotechnology that seamlessly switches between traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games," says RED.

"Experience 'look around depth' in the palm of your hand," the company continues, "no glasses or headsets in sight."

Exactly what that means remains to be seen, quite literally, but it sounds along similar lines to technology we've seen showcased with Google's Tango project, Microsoft's HoloLens headset, the mysterious Magic Leap teasers and the ARKit technology coming in the next version of iOS – a blurring of the lines between digital graphics and the real world.

We've also seen holographic display technology showcased several times in the last couple of years, from hugely expensive setups to more basic versions like the one on the Nintendo 3DS, so it would seem RED is confident of cramming something like that into a phone-shaped device that will cost you a big chunk of change.

You'll also get a simulated 5.1 surround sound audio experience from your handset if you fork out over a thousand dollars on one.

As for the more regular specs, the phone will come with a 5.7-inch screen and run Android, and will also accept extra camera modules for shooting high-quality photos and video, though again details are thin on the ground. The phone is going to be fitted with a USB-C port and will accept microSD cards.

The regular aluminum model can be pre-ordered now for US$1,195, with a titanium edition costing $1,495. RED says there will be a limited production run for both models.

If this were coming from an unknown Kickstarter company we'd advise treating it with a degree of caution, but with RED behind it we can't help but be intrigued (not that we'll be putting down cash for any pre-orders).

What seems certain is that RED, together with Google, Apple, and the other manufacturers, seems set on bringing AR and VR to mass market smartphones in 2018.

Product page: RED Hydrogen

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