We recently discussed the basics of Software Defined Light — what it is, how it relates to holograms, and how we see it being used — in our article, The Future of Holography is “Software Defined Light”. If you haven’t had a chance to read up on our introduction to this amazing new development, you may want to catch up. But if you have, and you’ve come back for more, get ready to explore its origins, how it really works, and what we can do with it.
So let’s talk about light.
At first glance, it may appear that light exists in just two states — on and off. But it is so much more than that. Light has several properties. Some you might be familiar with, such as wavelength and color.
There’s also phase — the difference, expressed in degrees of time, between two waves of light having the same frequency and referenced to the same point in time — this one might be new to you. But despite its on/off binary appearance, light is complex. Composed of bundles of electromagnetic energy called photons and containing a phenomenal amount of information, light is ever-shifting and has no finite set of values. This makes it difficult to control.
And yet now, with Software Defined Light, we can, and we do.
But wait, how does SDL work?
Remember phase? When phase shifts, light waves collide to create interference, where the information of one wave is combined with the information of another. This interference can reshape the waveform. Interference also allows us to steer the light towards a specific point. This incredible display of physics can be seen in something as simple as a lens. Lenses make it possible to shape, focus light, and ultimately, slow it down.
With SDL, we are doing just that — phase shifting, interference, reshaping, steering — but with software. We do this inside of a Bi-Phasic Crystal Element, composed of a Silicon Field Generator and a Bi-Phasic Electro Responsive Crystal. Inside, we are able to generate an electric field using software, and ultimately, change and direct the speed of light.
With this ability to steer and adjust the speed of light, we are capable of disrupting optics — anywhere they are used.
We’ve already done it in our HUD as well as with our 3D printer, but there is a whole world of optics left to change.
Let’s reverse and start from the beginning.
The HUDs produced by Two Trees Photonics, acquired by DAQRI in 2016, utilized the principles of Software Defined Light to deliver 2D images in full color. This restricted set of holograms lessened the computations needed and allowed for only about 20% of pixels in the HUD to be used simultaneously.
Since joining DAQRI in early 2016, and combining R&D efforts, a state-of-the-art, highly efficient display device designed specifically for immersive automotive AR has been developed, built around the core technology of Software Defined Light. We plan to see this new, highly immersive technology implemented in a number of automobiles by 2018.
So what’s next?
We’ve already mentioned our that the next round of SDL technology will be featured in the DAQRI Smart HUD™. Down the road, we see a future where SDL is implemented into all our products — DAQRI Smart Glasses™ and DAQRI Smart Helmet®.
But that’s not all. Imagine a future filled with holographic televisions, surgery, and more. We’re excited to bring SDL to a car near you, and eventually, everywhere else.
Interested in SDL? Watch this space for more information about Software Defined Light and other exciting DAQRI technologies.