Holograms That You Can Touch and Feel

This week at SIGGRAPH, a Japanese professor unveils his newest invention, combining holograms and ultrasound technology.

Holograms are cool. But holograms you can actually touch? A team of researchers from The University of Tokyo has created just such a technology. The tactile hologram, which is being shown-off this week at the SIGGRAPH conference in New Orleans, actually involves two basic pieces: A hologram, which is generated simply by shining an LCD projector onto a concave mirror, and a novel technique which creates ultrasonic waves.

The ultrasonic tech was first unveiled by the same team, led by Hiroyuki Shinoda at The University of Tokyo, at last year's SIGGRAPH conference. It uses low-energy ultrasound to create "pressure fields"—which feel akin to a blast of pressurized air. But unlike an air jet, which trails off as you get further from the source, the ultrasound waves can take on closed, localized shapes. Thus, an array of ultrasound transducers can even simulate the shape of a 3-D object:

Even if you've never heard of SIGGRAPH, you know some of the inventions that were first unveiled there (ever heard of the clickable graphic icon?). As always, this year includes a slew of amazing developments, and Tech Review has gathered five of them in this excellent post, including an augmented-reality display that lets you (virtually) redesign old toys; and a microphone device that can turn walls and tables into computer interfaces, using your fingernail as the stylus.

[Via MIT Tech Review]

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  • Douglas Steel

    Thanks for the report Cliff, I am always impressed at the pace of innovation reflected at SIGGRAPH. The interactive floating display technology has been a holy grail for some time. There is actually a company that has a successful product on the market, which as far as I can figure works by the same ultrasonics techonology as the Tokyo group. Check out the Heliodisplay by IO2 Technology at http://www.io2technology.com/ I think the founder Chad Dyner has been profiled by FC in the past. It might make an interesting blog story to give an update on what he is working on these days.

  • Victoria Kariolic

    Ooooh, I totally want to play with this technology. Awesome how they are using current toys in new ways :-)