Volumetric displays, like the Voxon Photonics VX1, are generally what most people would describe as “holographic.” While the technical definitions can get blurry, they are essentially able to display graphics that are actually in three dimensions — not just tricking your eyes into seeing a 3D object. But volumetric displays are notoriously difficult to build, and there has never been a commercially successful example. Now, thanks to SparkFun’s new transparent OLED screen, you can build your own tiny volumetric display.
This guide relies on the new SparkFun Qwiic Transparent Graphical OLED Breakout, which is a 128×64 pixel display that is completely transparent until a pixel is turned on. It can be driven just like any other OLED display from a microcontroller, such as an Arduino, via SPI or I2C. It’s a really unique product that could be useful in a lot of different projects. One such project is a volumetric display that was recently demonstrated on the SparkFun blog.
To build this, they stacked up 10 of the transparent OLED screens. The displays are very slightly tinted, so 10 was the maximum number that could be used while still remaining visible. Those are controlled by an Arduino over SPI. The code they’re using makes it possible to render 3D STL files across the stack of display. So, each rendered pixel can be set to a coordinate in the X, Y, and Z axes. The graphics may look simple, but it’s very impressive that they were able to build a volumetric display using off-the-shelf components.