09 February 2006

Plasma Screen In 3D -- Leaping Lasers, Batman!

Courtesy ofSingularity News (multipolarity memes), this story about 3-dimensional laser generated plasma holography explodes into view.

By way of Engadget and Pinktentacle we get news of a laser device that projects three dimensional images in midair, developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Here is the description:

The newly developed device, however, creates “real” 3D images by using laser light, which is focused through a lens at points in space above the device, to create plasma emissions from the nitrogen and oxygen in the air at the point of focus. Because plasma emission continues for a short period of time, the device is able to create 3D images by moving the point of focus.

3D image projectorAt the demonstration, bursts of laser light were emitted 100 times per second to form shapes in the air up to 50 cm above the device. Heat from the laser caused the air to expand, producing a crackling sound that resembled a series of tiny explosions.

At the moment, the distance at which the device can project images is limited to between 2 and 3 meters. Improved laser technology will enable images to be projected at greater distances and with more color, so we may soon see 3D images floating above our city skylines.

The chief scientist at AIST’s Photonics Research Institute says, “We believe this technology may eventually be used in applications ranging from pyrotechnics to outdoor advertising.”

[Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, AIST press release, Burton Inc.]

The laser actually turns gases in the air into plasma, accounting for all those tiny explosions. Has anyone questioned the possible health effects of creating thousands of tiny plasma pockets in room air? Ozone effects? NOX generation? The entire display could be contained inside an "invisible" box, if pollutants are generated by the plasmas.

This is an intriguing development in display technology. Genuine 3D displays are something of a holy grail for artists, gamers, and display scientists.
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