Tactile elements make holographic display a little more compelling

August 7, 2009 by Dave Haynes

I really don’t see a time with 3D and holographs will be a common components of retail or public-facing digital displays. It’s a novelty that tends to wear thin pretty quickly.

However, here’s a test app (spotted on Change The Thought) from some Japanese researchers that definitely opens up possibilities by making the images responsive and a little bit tactile. It was demo’d this week at the SIGGRAPH computer animation show in New Orleans.

Called Touchable Holography, the SIGGRAPH website talks about it this way:

Recently, mid-air displays are attracting a lot of attention in the fields of digital signage and home TV, and many types of holographic displays have been proposed and developed.

Although we can “see” holographic images as if they are really floating in front of us, we cannot “touch” them, because they are nothing but light. This project adds tactile feedback to the hovering image in 3D free space. Tactile sensation requires contact with objects, but including a stimulator in the work space dilutes the appearance of holographic images. The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display solves this problem by producing tactile sensation on a user’s hand without any direct contact and without diluting the quality of the holographic projection.  

It uses Nintendo Wii controllers for motion tracking, a little ultra-sonic air air thing, and LA-based Provision’s holography gear.

The bouncing ball thing in the video would get old fast but the tactile feeback or rain drops would be more surprising, as would be the micro blasts of air that would make it feel like the image is moving on your hand or actually impacting a surface.

A step in the right direction, but it’s still a specialty or museum thing. Beats a shoe or pop can spinning in mid-air.

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