Two things have always felt true about Brooklyn-based 3D display startup Looking Glass. First, their technology is really cool. I’ve seen it in person several times over the years, and it always impresses. Second, is that I can’t quite figure out who it’s for. A major pitfall for commercial innovation is that both of these things can be true at once.
The 32- and 65-inch systems are cost prohibitive, even for a lot of corporate buyers. At $399, the desktop Portrait is far more accessible, but the feature set needs expanding. I know one person who bought one to show off his NFTs — as niche as that market has always seemed, I would think it’s even smaller now given everything that’s transpired in the past couple of years. If you own an NFT, hide your shame.
For its part, Looking Glass is continuing to push the boundaries of what can be done with these screens. At the high end is some fancy 3D imaging for various professions, and for the aforementioned Portrait? The startup naturally took a good, long look at the world of generative AI (as we’ve all been doing of late) and came up with conversational holograms fueled by ChatGPT responses. It named the creatures “Liteforms.”
“Looking Glass is well-known for developing the most realistic holographic solutions that breathe life into 3D digital content, all without the need for headsets,” co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne said in a prepared statement. “But over the past few years, we’ve been prototyping new ways to not only create and view holograms but to communicate with them. With all the major leaps made with large language models like ChatGPT, now you can! We couldn’t be more excited to see how brands around the world use Liteforms to connect their fans to the magic of talking, ‘living’ holograms.”
Looking Glass teased the cartoon characters all the way back in late March, when Frayne tweeted out a video of a conversation between himself and a tough-talking rabbit character. “The Rickroll test is the new Turing Test,” he wrote. “Holograms x #ChatGPT = Uncle Rabbit.”
The company will be revealing more about the characters at the AWE event in early June. As for where all of this is going, one wonders if maybe there is a future for smart assistants like Alexa and Google Home, after all.