A being of Light
Kirill Pats, better known as "Brik" is surely the most special and brilliant person I have had the fortune to meet. He began his career as an electronic engineer working for the Belarusian army programming guided missiles. He got bored of programming war machines and one day decided to travel to China to discover other ways to apply his knowledge.
I saw him for the first time in April 2013 on one of my visits to the magical city of Shenzhen. My partner Benny Lai, introduced us suggesting that we could understand each other and maybe one day create something together. Months later we shared an apartment and became friends. I began to understand his achievements in LED technology and I quickly realized that I was not in front of a normal person. What he was doing had the potential to change the way we understand and control light.
Brik created microchips that turned simple Christmas lights into smart machines. Miniature brains that allow you to control points of light in a neuronal way. Splitting the information through thousands of processing points. the applications of its technology could go far beyond the Christmas lights. Through time, the possibility of creating a volumetric display appeared as an obsession in my head. I was closely following Brik's progress. How he perfected his system of Neuronal LEDs and made them increasingly intelligent and efficient. Living in the same apartment created a bind and a constant sharing of ideas and theories. Until one day, at the end of April 2016, Brik presented a new advance that linked our destinies in a common adventure and changed my life forever.
The birth of Dragon O
The creation of a prototype goes through many processes. But perhaps the most important of all is the moment when the idea appears clearly in the mind and the questions dissolve. Suddenly everything makes sense and what was previously invisible and elusive, becomes an omnipresent reality that absorbs everything. This is what happened that day in April 2016.
Brik presented a working low resolution flat panel prototype using its neural LED technology. This meant going from the single linear dimension of Christmas lights to the three-dimensional video systems. A quantum leap.
That day I pulled up a chair in front of the display and spent a long time absorbed without saying a word. They were minutes of almost spiritual meditation. Having this display in front of us meant the immediate possibility of applying Neural technology in a 3D Volumetric display with characteristics impossible until now. But how? How to program thousands of LEDs in a three-dimensional space to reproduce a coherent image? Perhaps a team of engineers would be necessary. Or maybe it would be necessary to build specialized software, which would take years and enormous effort. But the essential answer was much simpler and it was in front of my eyes all the time. It came like a flash and suddenly I understood. A team of programmers or years of development would not be necessary for building the first prototype. In a matter of a few months I could develop the system to control the device and write the first lines of a process which evolution is potentially endless.
The key was in the relation between the second and third dimensions. Each higher dimension contains all the previous ones. Thus, the third dimension can be understood as an infinite sequence of aligned two-dimensional layers. An infinite number of "flat screens" synchronized in time and conforming what we understand as physical reality. Through a simple system of "deconstruction" of the three-dimensional reality and its sectioning in 2D layers through a system of Booleans. These layers are later rebuilt within the display.
Now everything depended on a simple question and only one person could answer it. I got up from my chair and ran to find Brick who was digging through cables in the next office. A bit agitated I asked my question: "Brick, if we align several 2D displays like this one. Setting one after the other in alignment, can you synchronize the layers through a common timeline?". With the guttural voice typical of his two meters 8 centimeters of high, he replied:
"Of course". As if it were child's game for him.
That answer meant an emotional avalanche that took me off sleep for days. From that day on, most of my thoughts focused on visualizing the system that would soon come true. Dragon O already existed. Now it was just a matter of bringing it to light.
A long process
We received the support of C.J. Lai, founder of Powermoss, the company that bricked towards the developments of neural LED technology. Thanks to CJ and his brother Benny, we managed to have enough LED Neurons to build our first volumetric display prototype. We officially started its construction in September 2016. The display had a depth of 1 meter by one meter wide and one and a half meters high. The prototype consisted of 400 strings and a total of 12.000 LED Neurons. It had 20 layers. Each one of them received the information independently through an SD card. That means 20 SD cards that had to be synchronized. Each one containing a portion of the image. In the virtual environment, I built a replica of the physical display layer by layer. Then I inserted a 3D object into the virtual display. The boolean system allowed me to section the object into the 20 layers corresponding to the real display and generate 20 different fractions of the image in a moving video file. Then brik compiled this information making a conversion to binary code. The last step consisted of recording the information of the layer on an SD card and inserting it in the corresponding section in order to build the image step by step. I chose the torus as the first figure to exist within the Dragon. A figure of basic geometry but of mystical beauty. This shape still remains as the brand logo for Dragon.
The construction of the image consisted in a process that could take many hours. It was necessary to reach the final to detect errors or visualize corrections. A long process and in many ways "artisan". The purple torus was appearing little by little. Layer by layer. And after each layer that seemed successful, our excitement grew. We were in front of a dream that came true and took shape in a crescent way.
Today we generate content in real-time and we have programmers and technicians who have incredibly sophisticated the process. What in 2016 could take hours or even days, today is transmitted automatically. But the beauty of that first process. The intimacy in which it was made. The effort that it involved and especially the people who were present, will always remain in our memory as the beginning of an adventure that has transformed our lives. The birth of the Dragon.