It sounds like science fiction and looks like magic: Using lasers, lenses and mirrors, Japanese scientists have developed three-dimensional holograms that float in the air and can change shape when touched. The areas of application are diverse.
A small, glistening heart hangs in the air and is divided in half when touched with the finger. A small check mark appears when swiping in a floating check box. The researchers at Digital Nature Group are not the first to develop interactive holograms.
This is made possible by femtosecond lasers, which fire their energy into the air in a highly concentrated space. The local molecules are ionized, forms of glowing plasma arise: hearts, fairies, checkboxes or other buttons.
Fairy Lights: touch-sensitive lamps
When a person touches the holograms, he feels the vibration of the ionized air molecules. A camera under the hologram registers the touch, the lasers start a programmed response. The floating touchscreens can also be set in motion or grow along.
The researchers of the Digital Nature Group rely on previously developed plasma holograms generated with nanosecond lasers. However, the plasma of femtosecond lasers has the advantage that it does not burn the skin and gives a finer graphic representation.
Plasma holograms are not entirely harmless
However, the researchers have to wear safety glasses because the bright light from the femtosecond lasers can damage the retina. In addition, the interactive 3D holograms require a rather complicated structure consisting of lasers, lenses and galvanic mirrors. The holograms are currently no more than one cubic centimeter. However, the holograms can be scaled up in the future, writes the Digital Nature Group in one Research report (PDF).
There are many possible applications for plasma holograms. In addition to floating computer screens, holographic bracelets, houseplants or interactive sculptures for museums can also be made.
More exciting digital topics can be found here.