Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has developed a device that uses lasers to project real three-dimensional images in mid-air. The institute unveiled the device on February 7 in a demonstration that showed off the device’s ability to project three-dimensional shapes of white light.
AIST developed the projector with the cooperation of Keio University and Burton Inc. (Kawasaki, Japan). Until now, projected three-dimensional imagery has been “artificial” — optical illusions that appear 3D due to the parallax difference between the eyes of the observer. Prolonged viewing of this conventional sort of 3D imagery can cause physical discomfort.
The newly developed device, however, creates “real” 3D images by using laser light, which is focused through a lens at points in space above the device, to create plasma emissions from the nitrogen and oxygen in the air at the point of focus. Because plasma emission continues for a short period of time, the device is able to create 3D images by moving the point of focus.