iPhone 5: Hologram or Hoax?

Have you seen the  video below?  Purporting to be a concept demo of the next iPhone, it’s recently gone viral on the web.  Go on and hit play, it’s only a minute – we’ll still be here.

What did you think?  My first reaction was “wow, that would be awesome!”  Comments on YouTube, meanwhile, seem to have gone straight to “wow, that’s a load of BS.”   So is this a real prototype?  An elaborate fake?  Or something in between?  To find out, I did some internet legwork, and I’m presenting the results in this special 2-part post.  Read on to see what I found.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any contacts at Apple, and even if I did, they probably wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny rumors.  Instead, I looked at the technology implied by the video, and roughly estimated how plausible it is.  The video highlights 3 main features, so let’s dive into them one at a time.

Via Wikipedia / CC

1. Projection Keyboard.  Believe it or not, this technology exists and has been around for 10 years (or more).  The science is straightforward: a projector casts the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface, while an infrared or other sensor detects your finger movements.  An algorithm then combines this information to deduce which key you tapped.  I couldn’t find any existing mobile devices that incorporate this technology.  But it’s commercially available as a standalone device that connects to your other gadgets via Bluetooth.  In fact, ThinkGeek can sell you one right now, in time for Christmas even.

The video above does bump into a problem here, namely the size.  The virtual keyboard I’m talking about measures 38 x 75 x 29 mm, or as the manufacturer optimistically notes, “about the size of a small cellular phone.”   Those dimensions actually make it considerably bulkier than my current-generation Android.  While Apple’s engineers are likely ahead of what’s on the market now, it’s awfully hard to see how they cram this into an iPhone-sized device.  Perhaps the iPad would make more sense.

Plausibility: It’ll almost certainly happen, but you’ll see it in a tablet long before it shows up in a smartphone.

What about that cool holo-display, you ask?  And the incredibly thin design?   Click here to read Part II and find out!


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4 thoughts on “iPhone 5: Hologram or Hoax?

  1. I love when current tech feels like science fiction! I also doubt we’ll be seeing this in a smart phone anytime soon. Halo graphic keyboard + a 4 G connection? The battery would only last 3 minutes. Three glorious minutes!

    • Haha, that’s true, I might be eating my words next year. Actually, I kind of hope I’m wrong, because if the device in the video is real, I want one!

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