HOLLYWOOD — It looks like a smartphone, it acts like a smartphone, but once you see the screen on the RED Hydrogen One, you realize you’ve never seen anything like it. Hyped as the world’s first “holographic media machine that fits in your pocket,” the new smartphone from video camera-maker RED creates images that pop out of a camera — like watching a big-screen 3D movie — but with no glasses.
Starting this summer, the two largest U.S. wireless carriers, AT&T and Verizon will sell RED Hydrogen One. No pricing was announced for the phone, which is on the Android platform, but company officials said to expect the cost to be around 10% higher than the iPhone X, which starts at $999.
RED, the company that makes high-end video cameras (ranging from $1,000 to $50,000) beloved by filmmakers, staged a sneak peek of its upcoming Hydrogen ONE smartphone for enthusiasts and the film community over the weekend, where people got to see the technology with their very own eyes.
“The phone is for everybody who wants to change the way they view the world,” RED founder Jim Jannard told USA TODAY. “We see in multi view, yet everything we watch on our phones is in 2D. We want to change that, so you get your content in multi view.”
Holding the phone in ones hand is not unlike any other phone–except this one is a little larger and heftier than others, bigger than an iPhone 8 Plus. And it and has notches on the side to connect it to future modules the company hopes to sell, like the ability to connect large DSLR lenses.
The value of placing this technology in a phone, as opposed to a high-end video camera is to deliver instant feedback on the image via the 5.7 inch LCD screen and make it easier to share.
When customers get their phones, they’ll be able to shoot their own photos and videos in what RED calls the 4-View mode. To watch other videos not made on the Hydrogen One–say on sites like Netflix, YouTube and others, RED is setting up what it calls the Hydrogen Network. This is a place for studios and filmmakers can have their 3D content converted to 4View.
RED threw some names out as potential partners at the event, including the Walt Disney Co. and Lionsgate. Whether consumers (who will be able to afford the phone) will be dazzled by technology touted bas “retina-riveting” is no guarantee. It’s not like phones with 3D screens ever found an audience.
And while much of the talk was of the One being a holographic one, it’s not holograms as we remember from the Star Wars movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead it’s an effect Jannard calls 4D, pictures that look fully dimensional and pop off the screen.