About this project
What is Looking Glass & Volumetric Printing?
Looking Glass is the world's first volumetric printing service. We developed volumetric printing over the past year so that we could bring any 3D scene from digital space into the real world in magazine-resolution color. A bioluminescent jellyfish. An amoeba magnified 100X. A boa constrictor consuming an elephant.
This isn't likely something you've seen in 3D object printing or holography before. Volumetric 3D scenes in millions of colors with full opacity and transparency control are now possible. Meaning for the first time ever we can volumetrically print a thunderstorm you can hold, with the lightning visible through the clouds.
If you can dream it, now you can hold it in a Looking Glass.
Take this translucent frog, for instance (available as one of the Rewards for this Kickstarter).
Looks like a real frog specimen in a box, doesn't it? Perhaps caught and clarified in the marshes of Cameroon? Ah, but don't let your eyes deceive you - we wouldn't be so cruel. Get ready for a mind-blow. There's actually no frog in that box.
It's just ink. It's made up of hundreds of sheets of lucite, each printed with a tiny slice of the 3D modelled frog, complete with see-through skin and internal skeleton. When those slices are stacked, put into a vacuum chamber, and injected with a refractive index-matching fluid, the result is a volumetrically printed Looking Glass.
Reward Choices (NEW CURIOSITIES!)
And now we want to make volumetric printing available to all of you. By backing our project, you will receive one or more of the world's first volumetric prints. Choose from any of the Looking Glasses below.
We've already unlocked twelve Looking Glasses, each available in three sizes. And backers can now vote on unlocking the 13th Curiosity from the list below:
Detail on Each Unlocked Curiosity
CT-SCANNED HUMAN FOOT
This is the first, and thus far only, volumetric print ever made directly from a medical CT scan. Lisfranc injury. Dislocation of 2nd through 5th metatarsals. Scanned two hours after injury in Manhattan. And now, dear backers, it can be yours!
BOA CONSTRICTOR DIGESTING AN ELEPHANT
This Looking Glass is an ode to one of our favorite books, The Little Prince. When 6 years old, the author explains how he embarked on a career to become a magnificent painter with his first ever drawing: a boa constrictor digesting an elephant. However, when he showed his drawing to the grown-ups, they could not see a boa constrictor or an elephant - all they could see was a hat. They promptly recommended to the author that he pursue another career path.
This Looking Glass is for the non-grown-ups out there. From afar, it will look like a three-dimensional hat. But when held up to the light, its true nature will be revealed - as a realistic boa constrictor with an elephant in his belly, as if caught mid-digestion in the jungle and preserved in lucite.
TRANSLUCENT FROG WITH SKELETON
A see-through frog with fully visible skeleton that looks insanely realistic. But we've got to tell you - and I hope you're sitting down - there's no frog in that box. It's just ink. This is one of the first Looking Glasses we made with transparency.
INTERNAL HUMAN ORGANS
by Dr. Scott Camazine
This is a realistic drawing of the full internal organs of a human by fellow Kickstarter creator Scott Camazine. The lungs are a bit translucent, demonstrating one of the new effects possible with volumetric printing.
CT-SCANNED POCKET PISTOL
Volumetric print of a CT-scanned Williamson Deringer pocket pistol, data provided by the University of Huddersfield. Thanks to Dr. Paul Bills and James Williamson for opening up micro CT-scanning to volumetric printing.
Fly Amanita (Amanita muscaria) is called the world's most famous mushroom or sometimes "The Fairy Tale Mushroom", thanks to its super powers in Mario Bros. In real life however, it is deadly.
But don't fear - we will 3D model an accurate volumetric specimen of a couple Amanita muscaria mushrooms which will pose no danger to life or limb - unless mistaken for a 1up mushroom and ingested.
CT-SCANNED DOLPHIN SKULL
by Dr. Scott Camazine
Another one from fellow Kickstarter creator Scott Camazine, this is a CT-scanned dolphin skull to be printed into a Looking Glass in full 3D volumetric glory. That being said, if you choose this Curiosity and you tell your friends it's an alien skull discovered off the coast of Florida, we won't say anything.
CT-SCANNED HUMAN SKULL WITH ILLUSTRATED BRAIN
by Dr. Scott Camazine
We were told by more than one backer that a Cabinet of Curiosities wouldn't be complete without a human skull. So, for those backers we've tried to do something special - this is a Looking Glass based on a genuine CT-scan of a human skull down to the shoulders. All of the bone imagery is very much real volumetric X-ray data. (The brain imagery isn't "real" but it is an excellent 3D illustration, positioned correctly within the CT-scanned bone structure)
PICKLED SHARK (NEW!)
by Peter Tan a.k.a. Mr. How
One of the first experimental volumetric prints we made in 2013, this volumetric print was so realistic we often were asked, "Wow, how hard was it to 3D scan a live shark?!". It's actually based on a drawn 3D digital model but does look freakishly real. And now, the artist Peter Tan has made his Pickled Shark available as a choice for all backers.
Coincidentally, these pieces happen to be volumetrically scaled in pricing to a certain life-size $12 million stuffed shark.
THE WORLD'S MOST TYPICAL PERSON OF THE 21st CENTURY (THEORETICALLY)
As reported in TIME magazine, the world's most typical person is a 28-year-old Chinese man.
"He’s a guy, he’s Han Chinese, he is 28 years old and there are 8,999,999 others out there that look a lot like him. The image [above] is a composite created by merging pictures of 190.000 men that the Chinese Academy of Sciences collected over the course of a decade of individuals who fit that description"
BIOLUMINESCENT MOON JELLYFISH (NEW!)
Backers recently voted on unlocking this new Curiosity, the Bioluminescent Moon Jelly Fish. Now we're in the midst of testing different luminescent inks which we will hand-screen on key areas of the jellyfish tentacles and body after the main volumetric stack is printed.
FLORIDIAN THUNDERSTORM (NEW!)
Details coming soon....! (we are working on getting our hands on genuine volumetric thunderstorm data before we model this up)
Why we need your help.
Inspired by work we'd done on efficient micro-solar panels and a lifelong desire to make a walk-around full-color room-light-viewable hologram (or something like it), we've spent the last year transforming volumetric printing from hundreds of glass prototypes with machine oil into something magical.
If this Kickstarter campaign is successful we will be able to transform our prototype system into a full production volumetric printer capable of printing different size Looking Glasses in millions of colors. We'll also be able to collaborate with (and pay) several of our artist and scientist friends making the amazing specimens you see in the cabinet of curiosities above.
Thank you to everyone who is joining us on this adventure to build a new field of volumetric imaging.
To the future!
Shawn, Christina, Alex, Angus, Samtim, Alvin, & Prachi and the dozens of scientists, inventors, engineers, designers, artists, and balloon clowns that helped us along the way.
Risks and challenges
Our team at Looking Glass has been in the invention business (first in cleantech, now in volumetric imaging) for nearly 10 years and we've experienced firsthand many of the delays that arise when bringing a new hardware technology to the world. Anything new isn't going to come into the world without a fight and a bit of screaming, even for the most experienced teams. This rule applies to both inventions and babies.
But knowing what's coming has given us a chance to prepare, to lessen the risk of delays associated with this first Looking Glass Kickstarter campaign.
Most importantly, our fundamental volumetric printing tech already exists. It's no longer experimental - it's real, having been refined over the past year. In the lead-up to this Kickstarter, we've created hundreds of volumetric prints to refine both our process, hardware, and software.
Even so, we're pushing the technology to a new level for backers - we're upgrading to new suppliers of the input materials, transforming our prototype printer into a production volumetric printer, and adding a couple new Looking Glass sizes. We're confident we know how to manage the risks associated with these improvements, but we're human. And of course there's always a chance a microscopic black hole spontaneously forms at the center of Earth and consumes all life and Kickstarter rewards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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