Walking, talking holograms have been a staple of sci-fi films since Princess Leia was magically brought to life in “Star Wars”.
Now scientists in Britain say they can make even more realistic 3-D versions—a butterfly, a globe, an emoji—which can be seen with the naked eye, heard and even felt without the need for any virtual reality systems.
Writing in the journal Nature, a team at the University of Sussex in southern England, said technology currently in use can create 3-D images but they are slow, short-lived and “most importantly, rely on operating principles that cannot produce tactile and auditive content as well”.
To fill in the picture, so to speak, the team created a prototype called Multimodal Acoustic Trap Display (MATD) which “can simultaneously deliver visual, auditory and tactile content”.
This uses what is known as “acoustophoresis”—sound waves that move and manipulate an object, in this case particles—to form an image in a small box containing arrays of very small speakers.
“Our system traps a particle acoustically and illuminates it with red, green and blue light to control its colour as it quickly scans the display volume,” the team said.