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Touchable Holograms Are Here, and That's Huge for the IoT

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User interface is a problem for the IoT. Like security, standards and universal platforms, a lack of intuitive UI can prevent adoption and acceptance among the mass of consumers. One exciting development in this area was published recently by a group of researchers at Digital Nature Group, lead by Yoichi Ochiai. The paper, “Fairy Lights in Femtoseconds: Aerial and Volumetric Graphics Rendered by Focused Femtosecond Laser Combined with Computational Holographic Fields,” is available via Arxiv.

The team outlines a new type of tactile hologram, which responds to physical touch and can be programmed to take actions as a result of the touch. They call them “Fairy Lights.”

This method of making what are called aerial and volumetric graphics uses super-short duration lasers that fire in femtosecond bursts. That’s about a quadrillionth of a second, much shorter than usual laser bursts, which are usually in the nanosecond range. This high-intensity laser burst causes air to ionize and emit light (like all holograms) at a 3D position, making plasma.

The paper said there are two methods of rendering graphics with the laser: producing holograms using spatial light modulation technology and scanning of a laser beam by a galvano mirror. The resulting holograms are still only about 1 cubic centimeter, but the team is optimistic about the ability to scale up to larger sizes.

Once the hologram is formed, a user can touch it (apparently it feels like a static shock) and cause it to change. This can be marking a check box or pushing a button. These controls will get more sophisticated with time. To take the inputs from the touching, a small camera is underneath the hologram and sends the information back to the controlling computer to change the hologram.

Check out how it works in the below video. 

Get your hands onto this kind of tasty new technology at the IoT Evolution Expo Demo Stage and exhibit hall, August 17 to 20 in Las Vegas. 




Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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