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The Visualization Toolkit (VTK) is open source software for manipulating and displaying scientific data. It comes with state-of-the-art tools for 3D rendering, a suite of widgets for 3D interaction, and extensive 2D plotting capability. VTK is used by academicians for teaching and research; by government research institutions such as Los Alamos National Lab in the US or CINECA in Italy; and by many commercial firms who use VTK to build or extend products.

VTK is written in C++ and supports several different higher level language wrappers, including Python, Java and JavaScript. It is also the core engine for other tools like Paraview and Slicer 3D.

To learn more about VTK, visit

Looking Glass support has been added to the master branch of the VTK source code as of Oct 1, 2020. To use VTK with Looking Glass support, you must build VTK from source.


If this is the first time setting up a Looking Glass, visit the Getting Started page to make sure your display is set up correctly and ready to go.

This integration requires the following:

  1. HoloPlay Service v1.1.3 or later. Use this diagnostic tool to check which version you have installed if unsure.

  2. HoloPlay Core SDK

Getting Started

To use VTK with the Looking Glass, you have to enable the VTK_MODULE_ENABLE_VTK_RenderingLookingGlass flag in CMake when building.

In CMake:

  1. Set VTK_MODULE_ENABLE_VTK_RenderingLookingGlass to ON

  2. Edit HoloPlayCore_INCLUDE_DIR to point to header files directory <your_path>/HoloPlayCoreSDK/HoloPlayCore/include

  3. Edit HoloPlayCore_LIBRARY to point to the dylib file of your corresponding platform library <your_path>/HoloPlayCoreSDK/HoloPlayCore/dylib/<platform_specific>

  4. (Optional) If you would like to run the examples provided, turn on BUILD_TESTING too.


For more detailed instructions on how to build VTK, visit the official VTK Wiki page.


There are two different approaches to rendering in the Looking Glass. You can create an OS-specific Looking Glass render window and use it as you would a regular vtkRenderWindow (see Testing/Cxx/TestDragon.cxx). Alternatively, you can use the vtkLookingGlassPass as you would normally use a render pass in a renderer (see Testing\Cxx\TestLookingGlassPass.cxx).

If you have enabled BUILD_TESTING then you can run the following:

~/vtk-build $ cd bin
~/vtk-build/bin $ ./vtkLookingGlassCxxTests "TestDragon" -D ../ExternalData/Testing -I

This should create a window inside the Looking Glass display with graphics that produce a holographic image. (Note: you may need to drag terminal window inside Looking Glass before running the command)


Make sure HoloPlay Service is running and can detect your device. See this page for more help.


For further Looking Glass support, visit the Looking Glass Forum.

For further VTK support, visit the VTK Forum.