True 3D Plasma Display

A true 3D display was demonstrated earlier this month in Japan by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in collaboration with Burton Inc.


(Three dimensional pixelated drawing)

Most "3D" displays draw pseudo-3D images on a two-dimensional plane by utilizing the human binocular disparity (your eyes are several inches apart, and see a slightly different view). This device creates a true three-dimensional picture with infrared pulse laser light that creates a small dot of plasma (light-emitting ionized gas) in mid-air. Software controls the galvanometric mirrors that aim the laser pulses; any figure can be reproduced.


(Diagram overview)

The display uses one pulse for each "pixel" - the plasma pixel has an emission time of about a nanosecond. The device can create about 100 dots per second, limiting the resolution of the display.

Most science fiction fans immediately think "Help me, Obiwan Kenobi. You're my only hope" when they think about three-dimensional displays that appear in mid-air. However, there are earlier examples. In his cool 1928 novel Crashing Suns, Edmond Hamilton conceives of the telestereo:

Abruptly I was aroused from my musings by the sharp ringing of a bell at my elbow. "The telestereo," I said to Hal Kur. "Take the controls." As he did so I stepped over to the telestereo's glass disk, inset in the room's floor, and touched a switch beside it. Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man in the blue and white robe of the Supreme Council, a lifesize and moving and stereoscopically perfect image, flashed across the void of space to my apparatus by means of etheric vibrations...
(Read more about Edmund Hamilton's telestereo)

Take a look at several other 3D displays that use different technologies to achieve the effect; 3D Holographic Images And Heinlein's Stereovision Tank and Heliodisplay. Read more in the Three Dimensional Images in the Air (AIST press release). Found this one at Interactive Architecture dot org.

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