This holographic camera turns any window into an invisible camera

Zeiss Holocam
(Image credit: Zeiss)

Zeiss is bringing its remarkable Holocam technology to CES 2024, which can turn any glass screen into a camera. This means that everything from the window in your car to the screen on your laptop to the glass on your front door can now possess an invisible image sensor. 

Further, because the technology makes the camera completely transparent, it eliminates the need for cutouts or punch holes – meaning you can have direct eye contact with the person you're chatting to, because the camera can be placed anywhere on (or should that be in) the screen. 

The Holocam technology "uses holographic in-coupling, light guiding and de-coupling elements to redirect the incoming light of a transparent medium to a hidden image sensor."

Zeiss' CES presentation is focused around its Multifunctional Smart Glass system in general, with a focus on applications in automobiles, so many of its use cases are based around how holography can improve in-car operability. However, it's easy to see how this could be truly transformative technology in the wider world. 

Smart doorbells that don't need a separate camera module. Webcams that enable you to look anywhere on your screen. Parking cameras that can be completely hidden. Face or gesture recognition on any screen, including to unlock doors. Fatigue detection for drivers. Or, you know, phones and tablets without bloody notches or punch holes.

Using an entire pane of glass as a camera lens also opens some fascinating optical possibilities. Some of Zeiss' bullet points include "large aperture invisible camera" and "individual adjustment of orientation and size of the field of views." Which makes me wonder, what is the maximum aperture and focal range of a camera like this?

Of course, there's a darker potential for such technology. Given the current fear around hidden cameras in Airbnbs, the idea of every single window (or even shower door) in a rental property being able to spy on you is a little disconcerting. 

Still, this is a fascinating bit of tech – and I'm super excited to see if and how it comes into everyday use. 

Doors that only open if they recognize your face sounds cool – but then, we all know how that works (or doesn't) on phones (Image credit: Zeiss)

Take a look at the best dashs, the best indoo security cameras, the best spy cameras and the best hidden camera detectors

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.