Holographic storage rises from the dead

Summary:Holographic storage has incredible potential, but has never made it to market despite$100 million and years of R&D. But now it gets one more chance to make good.

Two years ago InPhase Technologies, who had labored for a decade to bring holographic storage to market, bit the dust. But thanks to the patient and deep-pocketed VCs at Signal Lake - who bought InPhase's remains - the technology will have another chance.

Today at NAB in Las Vegas hVault is resurrecting the technology for one more try.

How does it work? Holograms use 2 coherent laser beams - a reference beam and an illumination beam - to create an interference pattern that is recorded on photo sensitive media. Shine a laser on the recorded interference pattern and the original image is reconstructed in glorious 3D. As the laser moves around - or you do - you see the image from different perspectives.

Holographic storage has some nifty properties.

  1. A small fragment of a hologram can reconstruct the entire data image. The fragment won’t let you move as far around the image, but for 2D images, like a photograph, it means a scratch isn’t fatal.
  2. Data density is theoretically unlimited. By varying the angle between the reference and illumination beams - or the angle of the media - hundreds of holograms can be stored in the same physical area.
  3. Photographic media has the longest proven lifespan - over a century - of any modern media. Since there’s no physical contact you can read the media millions of times with no degradation.

But with a new medium comes a whole host of difficult and expensive problems, developing every piece of the product including:

  • Holographic media
  • Mass production of the media
  • The read/write algorithms and optics

While keeping the price down.

The Storage Bits take I've never gotten a clear story on why InPhase failed to bring a product to market, but that should be Job #1 for hVault. Yes, the economics are daunting, but they won't get better until you get traction.

I've got a briefing scheduled with hVault for Wednesday. I'm looking forward to hearing more and sharing it with you.

What questions would you like answered? Put them in the comments.

Comments welcome, of course. I wish them luck.

Topics: Storage

About

Harris has been working with computers for over 35 years and selling and marketing data storage for over 30 in companies large and small. He introduced a couple of multi-billion dollar storage products (DLT, the first Fibre Channel array) to market, as well as a many smaller ones. Earlier he spent 10 years marketing servers and networks.... Full Bio

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