Emerging Display technology, will anything be real?

Many of us can remember the iconic scenes in the movie ‘Minority report’, where Tom Cruise’s character swipes and manipulates screens and windows with his hand and arm gestures or the Iron Man/Avengers series where Robert Downie Jr uses 3D holograms to move and spin objects. The dream of many is to have devices where gestures and movements control the icons and windows on a display that is barely noticeable. Is this only the stuff of science fiction or the dreams of programmers, some would say yes, FourFront Reviews doesn’t think so and we’ll show you why. This post will examine the emerging display technologies of holographics, screen-less displays and phased array optics. although the concepts are not new news, however what is currently being built and going through trial phase is.

Holographics have been around Hollywood for decades, many of us grew up wanting be Luke Skywalker and fire proton torpedoes into the death Star from an X-wing fighter. Holographic displays have taken on many forms, heads up displays in vehicles is now quite common and just about every fighter jet utilises holographic’s. But where will we use holographic’s tomorrow or in 5 years time. Let’s examine that, earlier this year Microsoft announced a new holographic project called a ‘hololens’. The project uses numerous realtime cameras and holographic lenses to view the world around while overlaying interactive holographics through the wireless headset, yes you read correctly ‘wireless’. According to the tech site, The Verge, windows has teamed up with NASA in the development of the HoloLens, so you could only imagine what astronauts will be fitted with if this is the public version. Next up, screen-less displays.


Screen-less displays are an almost all encompassing topic, traditionally they included popular areas such as Holographics, Heads-Up-displays and the now all to common virtual reality goggles/glasses/headset whatever you wish to refer to them as. But for FFR, screen less displays means something else, such as how to project an image onto… well, nothing or something other than a solid. Back in 2011, public safety messages in the Sydney harbour tunnel were designed by a company called Laservision to project an image on the a film of water pouring onto the road like a waterfall, the steady stream allows a reasonably solid image to be projected. The concept of screen less display, at present is unavailable, however during research into this topic it was noted that concepts are being theorised to project images onto the water particles within oxygen. The water molecule is more stable than hydrogen and could potentially provide a ‘surface’. Until a projection system is developed which does not require a surface or headset to view the image, dreaming is the closest we will get.


The last topic reviewed is phased array optics, first and foremost a definition, ‘Phased Array Optics is the use of Spatial Light Modulators built to nanometer specifications for general manipulation of light’. Wikipedia further defines it as ‘dynamically controlling the optical properties of a surface on a microscopic scale, it is possible to steer the direction of light beams, or the view direction of sensors’. Phased Array optics or PAO is being referred to as technology that could possibly replicate the Star trek ‘holodeck’. At this point PAO can only be theorised, however the future applications are boundless from training simulations, communications, psychology, medicine and many more.

Although these topics are not quite into production or even at the concept phase the point is, is that there are very interesting advancements in the field of displays to look forward too. Yes, you could just be mesmerised by the next curved phone or smart watch but we’d like to think there are still some people out there looking at the ‘bigger picture’ (sorry for the bad ‘display’ joke).

Emerging Construction Technology

The construction industry appears to be heading for a major overhaul with the development of certain construction techniques and autonomous robotic workers. What are the potential advacements, are they within reach or simply wishful thinking. Of all the the concepts and theories circulting 3 topics have been chosen. Claytonics, 3D printing and domed cities are touted by many as revolutionary construction methods, each topic will be explained and reviewed to determine what real world applications could exist, if any. The first topic discussed will be claytronics.

Some readers may not have heard of claytronics, admittedly it is a relatively new topic to FFR so some digging was required. The global research University of Carnegie Mellen has teamed up with Intel to develop a claytronics project which they define as collaborative research into programmable matter. They state that claytronics is the combination of ‘modular robotics, systems nanotechnology and computer science to create the dynamic, 3-Dimensional display of electronic information’. Micro robots form the matter, which could take any programmable shape. One theory is that the shapes could provide base building blocks for construction of any object exceeding current methods or structural limitations of today’s methods. Some believe claytonics could become a reality by 2020. The Carnegie Mellen and Intel project is not the only claytronics project currently being conducted, however limited information is currently available, which leads us to the the next topic 3D printing.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

Not 20 minutes go by before something new has been 3D printed, but there are still some very interesting advacements. 3D printing is not a new concept especially in the field of construction, however some of it’s uses for construction is intriguing. CNET published an article in mid January 2015 about a Chinese company called WinSun that constructed a 5 storey apartment block from 3D printed materials, most of the plastics were recycled making the contruction even more interesting. In December 2014, the International Space Station was able to 3D print a ratchet wrench from code that was beamed up from mission control. The wrench was not used but returned to earth for comparison to earth based printed objects. Printing objects in space from materials that could be to heavy or dense to print with on earth could have enormous implications for construction. The ability to build large-scale objects with load bearing qualities could revolutionize the entire industry. Just imagine buildings being lowered into place or spaceports being built from raw materials in space. It could also be a key to building an outpost and later a colony on Mars. The last topic reviewed is domed cities.

Domed cities have been theorised for decades, in fact the earliest documented mention of a domed city was cited as far back as 1881. The concept appears straight forward, build a city under a domed glass roof, seems simple enough. The main premise is the atmosphere in the dome can be controlled allowing a comfortable existance regardless of the external enviroment. The city of Dubai is attempting to build the world’s first domed city, however it’s probably not what you’d imagine. There is a central dome containing green space and other social areas but also an extensive enclosed interconnecting walk ways to shops, hotels and other facilities the domed city plan appears as a spider’s web of climate controlled walk ways and hubs. Extreme heat is a driving factor for the Dubai domed city project but extreme cold weather cities can also benefit from controlled atmospheres such as domed cities. The challange for domed cities will be if they can achieve zero emissions, thereby not impacting the environment surrounding the domed area.

The three topics of claytronics, 3D printing and domed cities are defiantly not the be all and end all of construction methods and techniques being practices and theorized. On the contrary the number of concepts currently being discussed would mean this blog would take a week to read if each topic was analysed. All we know is that construction along with other emerging technology sectors are evolving at exponential rates. How we as human beings build cities and where we live on this planet could be unimaginable with today’s technology but quite frankly we’re very excited.