Creating the types of 3D holograms that are used to authenticate products or currency usually requires very expensive, very complex printers. That's what makes them so hard to counterfeit. But a team of researchers from MIT have created a new kind of 3D hologram that can be printed on the inkjet printer you probably already have sitting on your desk.
Instead of using lenticular lenses to create a 2D motion effect, which really only works in one direction, Lumii's holograms feature true 3D parallax movement in all directions, without the need for finding a "sweet spot" to really see the effect.
Using a custom image-processing algorithm the company developed that drew on work and research the team did while at MIT, a 3D model is broken down into multiple layers, which can be individually printed using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer. When stacked, with a small gap between the two, they create a convincing 3D effect, allowing the image to be examined from multiple angles.
Using clever computer imaging techniques to produce holograms on the cheap is a fun trick, and there are several smartphone apps that allow 3D models to be captured and generated for those who don't know how to use complex modelling software.
A backlight is required to create the 3D effect with these layered holograms, but since airports, shopping centres and even subways are already filled with those lightbox ads, Lumii believes advertisers would benefit most from its cheaper approach to holograms. When it looks like ads are leaping off the walls right at you, it could soon be impossible to ignore them.