May 11, 2021

Hologram Technology Makes Sci-Fi Classics Feel Real

Think of your favourite science fiction film. Now, imagine it brought to fruition out of thin air as real-life entertainment. Scientists from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, USA, have done just that.

The BYU team has developed a “optical trap display”, which uses a light particle trapped in air and is contoured in such a way that it produces a shape. The particle’s movement is then tracked by a visible light, which then forms an image – given how often the human eye flickers, the image must be reproduced about 10 times a second, which means they are incredibly small.

Dan Smalley, co-lead on the research project, said: “Most 3D displays require you to look at a screen, but our technology allows us to create images floating in space – and they’re physical; not some mirage.”

He added: “This technology can make it possible to create vibrant animated content that orbits around or crawls on, or explodes out of everyday physical objects.”

To illustrate the point, Smalley’s BYU crew created a mini-battle between Yoda and Darth Vader – enough to make any “Star Wars” geek squeal with delight – demonstrating how an actual hologram would look like.

Smalley explained: “These are real, and if you look at them from any angle, you will see them existing in that space.”

The technology is currently limited in size, but shows promise in unmapped perceptions of time and space, boldly going where no hologram has gone before.