A team of researchers from Japanese firm Aerial Burton have showed off focused pulse lasers with the ability to project a 3-D display in mid-air, even during daylight. Unlike other holographic projectors we’ve seen, it doesn’t require fog or steam to display the image and can be displayed using just air as the medium.

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The laser ionizes molecules in the air and so the source of light is actually in the air, rather than the light coming from a different source and being reflected. Although it cannot produce a high detailed image like other projectors, it’s still a big step forward considering there is no screen or fog to reflect the image to your eyes.

The apparatus directs the images produced by a 1kHz infrared pulse laser into a 3D scanner which reflects the pulses up into the air, focusing on a specific co-ordinate. By ionizing molecules in very localized areas, the device is essentially producing pockets of plasma that give off energy as photons. These flashes are unfortunately short-lived, so the system has to constantly pulse new beams to sustain the image.

For now Aerial Burton are working on producing a higher resolution which is going to be a challenge as air is less dense than fog. For now, they are looking at marketing the technology to be used during emergencies for offering directions for safe routes and delivering critical information. The apparatus is also quite large and they are hoping to scale it down such that it can be transported in cars easily.

See it in action in the video below:

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