Is Holus about to become the most successful scam in the history of Kickstarter?

Since its launch last Thursday, Holus — a purposed “3D hologram” — raised more than $200K on the crowd-funding platform, despite using misleading CGI and repeatedly breaking Kickstarter’s Terms of Use.

June 18th update

The infringing CGI was silently removed from the Holus campaign. Some claims were removed from the page as well. The creators of Holus didn’t find it worthwhile to mention the changes to their backers.

Redditors noted earlier that the crowdfunding platform had removed Holus from their Staff Picks (pending investigation possibly). It is now a Staff Pick again. This and the other changes to the campaign seem to indicate that H+ Technology may have found an agreement with Kickstarter. It sounds unlikely that they altered their campaign willingly.

Damage is done however, since most pledges and media coverage happened while the photorealistic CGI was online. In addition, the campaign still claims that Holus “converts any digital content from a computer, tablet or smartphone into a 3D hologram” and that they offer 360° viewing angles which is very inaccurate at best and extremely dishonest wording at worst.

So is this how the story ends? You can post a misleading campaign, raise a disproportionate amount of money, get called out, use shady evasive maneuvers, get called out again, silently dumb down your claims and you get a free pass? It looks like Holus may well have just pulled off the most successful scam in the history of Kickstarter.

Previously, on Holoscam

In their video, the Holus creators (a Vancouver based startup called H+ Technology) are using photorealistic renderings to make their product look like a perfect volumetric display.

For an in-depth analysis of the Holus scam, read my previous articles:
Part 1: https://medium.com/p/c12a861cb8bf
Part 2: https://medium.com/p/6bd4a70d7d9e

When pressed, the Holus team admitted using the old optical illusion known as “Pepper’s Ghost effect”, but kept claiming that the Holus provides a “proper hologram”. Asked repeatedly about their use of CGI, H+ simply ignored the question, deleted the comments or reported for spam whoever dared to raise the topic.

However, the Holus is nothing more than a standard computer monitor lying on top of a glass pyramid. In other words, in it’s current form, the Holus is unlikely to display anything more impressive than four distinct 2D views, reflected in four panes of glass. Or as someone on Reddit brilliantly said: “This is a strange 4 sided semi transparent TV.”

H+ Technology said they are exploring using a lenticular display (the same 3D technology used in the Nintendo 3DS for example) but it looks like this is not past the R&D phase yet. Even if Holus did show a prototype that solved the many issues of lenticular displays, it won’t look anything like the promo video simply because reflected light cannot do that.

The great silence

Despite numerous reports, Kickstarter has yet to react. Is it because it would make them look silly? You know, after selecting Holus as a Staff Pick… You can report Holus by clicking the link at the bottom of the project page.

Update: It looks like Kickstarter did respond. See June 18th update above.

The plot thickens

Recently, this person (let’s call him Gustavo) started posting messages defending Holus in the Kickstarter comments and elsewhere. What Gustavo failed to mention is the possible conflict of interest due to his ties with H+ Technology.

Gustavo belongs to an organisation which has, on their list of mentors… the Chief Operating Officer of H+ Technology. Surprise!

According to the Kickstarter Terms of Use, this is a sufficient reason for a project to be suspended.

Suspicious comments

A large proportion of the (very) positive comments on Kickstarter have been posted from accounts suspiciously created on the same day. They are not being particularly subtle either! See for yourself…

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