Scientists have taken a technology which once was only dreamed about in science fiction, and taken it further than anyone could ever have imagined. Experts in Japan have created 3D holographic technology that not only projects an image, it allows a viewer to interact with what is projected before them.
Whether it was the first appearance in Jules Verne’s “The Carpathian Castle”, later in George Lucas’ “Star Wars”, or even James Cameron’s “Avatar”, Holographic images have always captivated daydreamers and scientists alike.
Engineering behind holograms that react to physical touch
Researchers from various universities in Japan have used what they describe as a safer alternative laser called a “femtosecond” to facilitate this invention. Femtosecond lasers use pulses of light that are emitted at a rate so fast that they are not harmful, it would otherwise burn skin with human contact if not for its special design, “a high-intensity laser excites a physical matter to emit light at an arbitrary 3D position. Popular applications can then be explored especially since plasma induced by a femtosecond laser is safer than that generated by a nanosecond laser.”
The femtosecond laser sounds rather miraculous, but it is has been applied for years in other facets of the modern world. The femtosecond laser uses ultra-short pulses of electromagnetic light and has been used for applications in the study of chemistry, medical imaging technology, and has been used in cataract eye surgery since 2001.
So they’ve built a hologram that users can touch, now what?
Development doesn’t stop for the researchers at just creating the holographic technology. In their publication describing the details of their research, they discuss future practical applications of their advanced piece of engineering, “We envision a laser-induced plasma technology in general applications for public use, If laser-induced plasma aerial images were made available, many useful applications such as augmented reality (AR), aerial user interfaces, volumetric images could be produced. This would be a highly effective display for the expression of three-dimensional information.”
Research has led the team to believe that the public will benefit tremendously from the future 3D representations rendered using the laser imaging technology. Holographic images have been around for years now in the real world, but now science has taken a step beyond what imagination thought possible and created holograms that can be touched by human hands.