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Burton rolls out True 3D laser plasma display


November 15, 2011

A True 3D pyramid hovers in mid-air

(Image: DigInfo)

A True 3D pyramid hovers in mid-air (Image: DigInfo)

Image Gallery (6 images)

Engineers from Burton Inc. in Japan have rolled out a "True 3D" display, which evolved from work begun five years previously by teams at Keio University and Japan's national institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). While most 3D displays available today involve a form of optical illusion that depends on the parallax or disparity inherent in human binocular vision, this new system, which can function in air or under water, needs no screen of any sort, and the effect is quite impressive.

"Most current 3D devices project pictures onto a 2D screen, and make the pictures appear 3D through an optical illusion. But this device actually shows images in mid-air, so a feature of this system is that it enables 3D objects to be viewed naturally." said Burton engineer Hayato Watanabe.

The Burton system functions by focusing laser light into points which stimulate oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the air to a plasma excitation level. Computer control of the laser's position can cause the dots to coalesce into recognizable patterns very similar to a hologram, but literally in thin air.

"This system can create about 50,000 dots per second, and its frame rate is currently about 10-15 fps. But we're working to improve the frame rate to 24-30 fps," Watanabe explained.

In the demonstration video following this article, a green laser shines up from below into a small tank of water, but to create displays in air, more powerful lasers are needed. By combining red, green and blue lasers, the Burton team has managed to generate color images, which opens up a vast array of possible uses as the technology improves.

"As the first application for this, we thought of digital signage. Also, because this system makes 3D objects look natural, it could be used for analyzing 3D objects, and if its precision can be improved, it could be used in health care, too," said Watanabe.

Indeed, it seems we could be witnessing the birth of the technology that might one day allow autonomous robots to beam important messages such as, say, "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." We'll just have to wait and see.

Source: DigInfo

About the Author
Randolph Jonsson A native San Franciscan, Randolph attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland before finding his way to the film business. Eventually, he landed a job at George Lucas' Industrial Light + Magic, where he worked on many top-grossing films in both the camera and computer graphics departments. A proud member of MENSA, he's passionate about technology, optimal health, photography, marine biology, writing, world travel and the occasional, well-crafted gin and tonic! All articles by Randolph Jonsson

Hmmm, The next step to virtual girl?? It is available in real colors ?? and is it interactive with touch ,I.E. \"touchscreen\" ??

Jim Andrews

You could touch it, but it would burn!

Bob Tackett

LIGHT SABER...here we come! :)


Creating nitrogen and oxygen plasmas is exactly how NO2 is made!

This idea produces pollution two ways it makes it directly and then it makes it indirectly by using the very inefficient LASER to illuminate.

Such a system is an environmental nightmare like most of Japan itself.


There\'s no need to create plasmas in order to produce the images. Just crossing six 90 degree multiple scanner beams at the same intersect spots creates a brighter spot in only that area that can illuminate fog or dust in the air to produce the same effect, without ionizing, high energy plasmas. So 6 scanners spaced apart, each of the beams would not be bright enough on their own to illuminate the air dust particles, but where the beams intersect, would create a bright spot only there.

Swartie LoveJoy

This is so cool - just like in the movies - \'d love to see one .::

Victor Dammie.::

Help me Obi One, your our only hope!

tampa florida

When this actually happens - when I can watch a movie from any angle and viewpoint I choose (without glasses and without a limited field of view), THEN I\'ll be happy to purchase an actual, honest-to-goodness 3D television. Until then, they can keep their \"2D + visual tricks\" systems.


how one can control the focus point in x-y-z plane? laser passes in the medium(air or water) why before the focus it will not burn means why whole path is not burn?

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