Verizon and AT&T have teamed up with RED to solve carrier problems that have delayed the release of their phones by months. The film camera pioneers announced their new smartphone, Hydrogen One, last July in a flashy press release touting the device's 5.7-inch 3D "holographic display" without the need for special glasses.
They began taking preorders for the device in July at $1,200, but delayed releasing the phone to improve the cameras and secure carriers. Now that Verizon and AT&T have backed the company, a final release date for the smartphones may be on the horizon.
In their initial press release, the company claimed the phone "uses nanotechnology to seamlessly [switch] between traditional 2D content, holographic multi-view content, 3D content, and interactive games." They also touted their "multi-dimensional audio."
The smartphone would bring new capabilities to business meetings and collaboration through the 3D display, and its expandable pin system allows for additional hardware add ons.
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The company's founder, Jim Jannard, made headlines earlier this month when he wrote candidly in a RED user forum about the delays and changes that were being made to the phone.
"We have no idea whatsoever what we are doing. We have never built a phone. No one ever tried to integrate a 4-view display in anything before. When we started this project we didn't know any cell carriers or anything about the cell phone industry," he wrote.
"When we launch... the product won't be complete. There will be more firmware/software updates than any other phone ever made. We are learning as we go. Truly, we have no business entering this market. If that makes you uncomfortable... all I can say is this is exactly the same situation we were in when we announced the RED ONE."
RED's cameras are now used widely in the film industry, but mainly on major blockbuster films like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The Martian, Hacksaw Ridge, Little Sister, and Prometheus.
"We had no idea what we were doing, no clue about the cinema industry, etc. 'What does a sunglass guy know about high end cameras?' You have the right to be nervous. I am. Same as in 2006 when we started to build our 1st camera. But I saw the need to push forward with something better...as I do now. This is the single most exciting thing I have ever worked on," Jannard wrote in the forum.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- RED's Hydrogen One smartphone hopes to offer consumers 3D holographic display without the need for special glasses.
- The phone is available for order now, but will be officially released in August.
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Jonathan Greig has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jonathan Greig is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.