Researchers Go All Jedi, Create Holographic Animations in Thin Air

SF-inspired holodecks like the ones in Star Trek look a lot more feasible nowadays, as researchers found a way to create animations in thin air.
3D animations in thin air 1 photo
Photo: Brigham Young University
A holography research group from the Brigham Young University in Utah figured out a way to create holographic animations that are not generated by the computer. The animated images are as real as it gets. They float in space and they are visible from any angle, without being a simple mirage, as is the case with CGIs (computer-generated imagery).

With most 3D holograms, you need a special screen to display them and images can only be seen from certain angles, which is not the case with this new technology that maintains that 3D effect even if you walk all around them.

These yet simple animations are created using lasers instead of screens. Images are made from glowing particles inside a fixed volume, which means researchers can only draw images inside that display volume. That’s why they are keeping it small for now. As explained by the Brigham team, if they want to display something bigger, such as a mountain for instance, they have to build a volumetric display the size of a mountain.

The technology allows people to interact with these holographic objects and researchers have proven it through a little experiment. They had a student place a finger in the volumetric display, and then they created a holographic stick figure that actually walked and jumped off the finger of the student.

This recent breakthrough of the Brigham Young University is a major improvement of their Optical Trap Display method presented three years ago, which allows them to draw screenless, free-floating objects in space. Only with their latest discoveries, researchers can now create tiny lightsabers and battle scenes between Starship Enterprise and a Klingon Battle Cruiser, so nothing can stop them now!

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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