You might be able to resurrect hologram Tupac by 2015

Forget Coachella – holography chips for smartphones may beam into our mobiles as soon as next year

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Tupac at Coachella
Imagine this beaming out of your iPhone

It’s easy for us to imagine 3D holograms; from Leia's projection in Star Wars to the holo-game from Her, holography is pretty common as collective future tropes go. But soon you won’t have to imagine – at least according to a little-known Cali-based tech company called Ostendo. Well-funded by backers with an interest in technological innovation (see: the US army), the start-up plans to release smartphone chips that can project 3D holograms as early as summer 2015.

So far, the keenest champion of a burgeoning holographic trend has been the music industry. When Coachella bore witness to a holographic Tupac performance in 2012, audiences were left speechless (and a little spooked) by the realism of his six-pack and crotch-grabbing. Departed icons who have been swiftly resurrected include Elvis and Frank Sinatra, but living, breathing musicians like M.I.A. and Janelle Monae have all been given the holographic treatment, too. 

Ostendo are quick to point out the archaic nature of these musical incarnations as they use large mirrors to direct light and thus offer limited viewing angles. Unlike iterations of old, handset holograms use chips the size of Tic-Tacs, will look good from any angle and won’t be so heavy on the pockets. Some context: Tupac’s fee was $400,000, whilst these chips will retail for just $30.

It's an interesting development in a tech world still reeling from Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift – now that headset-free holography is on the horizon, it could be set to make waves in much the same way. Just don’t call it a comeback.

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