A touchable, morphing 3D hologram has been invented in Japan

2 Jul 2015

Holograms just got a lot more exciting with the news that a team of researchers in Japan has developed a 3D hologram projector that responds to a person’s touch, allowing it to completely change shape.

Dubbed ‘Fairy Lights’, and developed by researchers from five Japanese universities, the project was started as a means of improving existing 3D hologram technology and ones that react to touch in mid-air.

According to Hacked, the technology behind touchable holograms has been in existence for a number of years now, but has been nowhere near capable of being introduced to the commercial market because the laser beams, which generate the hologram, actually burn human skin on contact with it.

To fix this, the Japanese researchers decided to develop a system whereby their device will fire laser pulses that are fired at high frequencies, ionising the air molecules that exist in one particular spot.

The lasers in question are known as femtosecond lasers, which create pulses of light that last a few tens of femtoseconds, which to you and me means one millionth of one billionth of just one second.

This leads to the formation of the pixels, which respond to touch when the pulses are interrupted.

From the video they have published to show their results, the minute scale of the holograms shows great promise for bringing the technology on a larger scale in the near future during a time when augmented reality (AR) is seen as being a realistic alternative to interactive hologram technology.

Laser beams on dancefloor image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic