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).