Unlike Star Wars projection, 3D technology whips polystyrene bead round at high speed
It may not rival the technology found in a galaxy far, far away, but everyone has to start somewhere. Researchers in Southampton have built a device that displays 3D animated objects that can talk and interact with onlookers.
A demonstration of the display showed a butterfly flapping its wings, a countdown spelled out by numbers hanging in the air, and a rotating, multicoloured planet Earth. Beyond interactive digital signs and animations, scientists want to use it to visualise and even feel data.
While the images are similar, the device is not the sort of holographic projector that allowed a shimmering Princess Leia to enlist Obi-Wan Kenobis help in Star Wars. Instead, it uses a 3D field of ultrasound waves to levitate a polystyrene bead and whip it around at high speed to trace shapes in the air.