A New Projector Lets You Touch 3D Objects
It’s cool enough to have holograms, but what if you could actually touch them? Remember those uber-cool 3D projections in flicks like "Star Wars?" The University of Tokyo has turned this movie fantasy into a reality with its latest holographic projector prototype.
For added realism, it utilizes a pair of Nintendo Wiimotes for hand movement tracking and a technology known as (ready for it...) Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display. This essentially adds tactile feedback to the hovering image via ultrasonic waves (the projected images float about 12 inches away from the display surface). So when that hand that you see in the picture tries to dribble that tiny ball, it responds like a real superball would.
Ultrasounds are then given so the hand can actually “feel” the impact. Experiements have shown that the ultrasounds can disrupt things from a distance, and if focused properly, they can create a sense of touch. At the end of the video is that hand underneath some raindrops, and it can apparently “feel” them.
This is definitely one of those “this could change everything” technologies, but it is still in its fetal stage. In other words, don’t be dreaming about having your own holodeck from Star Trek TNG anytime soon.
Though I'm not that old enough, I have seen some really great ideas go nowhere and some other stuff that seemed silly at the time become important developments. Technology can turn some corners that we didn't even know were there. Who knows, this technology might not amount to much in the area of gaming, but could turn out to have useful applications in areas we can't imagine. In the meantime ... hey, it's cool!