Could 'Floating Pixels' Become Real-World Holograms?

Interesting Engineering

Scientists recently created 'floating pixels' by using sound waves to levitate colored spheres.

Lifting objects with sound waves isn't a new concept, but researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol want to turn the objects into floating pixels.

They used tiny spheres suspended by acoustic waves. They manipulated those spheres using alternative electric force fields.

The tiny levitating spheres were spun and manipulated thanks to ultrasonics. The researchers then stepped up their game by painting the balls with different faces. Those faces could be spun to show somewhat of an 'image'. At 36 pixels, though, the screen can hardly produce an image.

Where the Technology Could Take Us

However, the technology is a stepping stone towards producing viable holograms. Dr. Deepak Sahoo, research associate in human-computer interaction at the University of Sussex said:

"The most exciting part of our project is that we can now demonstrate that it is possible to have a fully functioning display which is made of a large collection of small objects that are levitating in mid-air. JOLED could be like having a floating e-ink display that can also change its shape."

The technology may seem primitive at this point. However, their research paper demonstrates the most precise control over the levitating 'pixels'.

Asier Marzo, research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol, said:

"Traditionally, we think of pixels as tiny colour-changing squares that are embedded into our screens. JOLED breaks that preconception by showing physical pixels that float in mid-air. In the future we would like to see complex three-dimensional shapes made of touchable pixels that levitate in front of you."

Professor Subramanian added:

"In the future we plan to explore ways in which we can make the display multi-coloured and with high colour depth, so we can show more vivid colours.  We also want to examine ways in which such a display could be used to deliver media on-demand. A screen appears in front of the user to show the media and then the objects forming the display fall to the ground when the video finishes playing.


SEE ALSO: Meet the Man Who Pictures the World's Microcosms

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