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Home / News / Next Big Thing: 3D photographs for magic-less muggles

Next Big Thing: 3D photographs for magic-less muggles

And not a single pesky pair of 3D glasses in sight

Harry Potter snaps are here at last? About time us muggles caught up

Not quite, though you’re not that far off either. These 3D prints don’t quite move around with their own intelligence and sentient will – but they do give off the strong impression of housing real 3D objects, crammed into flat two dimensional pieces of paper, which is, you know, a solid start, and a sort of magic in itself.

It all works thanks to some clever folks from MIT, who have developed a realistic glasses-free 3D experience using something called light field technology, which they’re calling Lumii.

What did the cheese say to it’s reflection? Hey Lumii

Very good. It’s going to take us a while to recover from that. Thanks. Back to these magical 3D photographs though – the way they work is rather clever. Subjects are photographed/scanned, and a 3D model is then created.

Lumii’s special Light Field Engine is able to then accept and process these 3D models, before an algorithm calculates and churns out a set of very unique patterns. These different patterns are then printed on separate layers of material using a regular printer.

Once sandwiched together, the patterns overlap, affecting the passage of light depending on the viewing angle, your eyes merge both angles together and – boom – you’ve got a Hogwart’s-worthy Polaroid in your hands.

Neat. But why?

But why? Imagine if Krunk had said that to Gorg when he first brought back a flaming stick to their cave. We’d still be eating berries and living in furs, and there’d be no such thing as Pokémon.

Pushing the boundaries and asking questions is the reason you’ve got a phone in your pocket many more times powerful than the one that took man to the moon. But enough preaching – these 3D prints are easier to make and have a larger depth of field than existing holograms, and have potential uses in lots of places – advertising, novelty cards, or even just offering something to decorate your house with.

It’ll be a while before they hit mainstream production though, so you’ve got plenty of time to commission your futuristic portrait.

For more information on Lumii, click here.

Profile image of Esat Dedezade Esat Dedezade Contributor


Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.