Called DisplAir, the technology combines an infrared camera, a projector, and cold fog to project 3D images and capture the user’s hand movements as they manipulate them. A user can “press” items to select them, swipe things to the side, and even use two hands and fingers to make objects larger or smaller, the 3D equivalent of multi-touch.
This being a prototype, the technology is far from polished. There’s a 0.2-second lag before your motion has an effect — slightly more than the 0.1-second delay of the Kinect, noted in many reviews. The fog also creates a “fringing” effect on the periphery of the projection.
Nonetheless, it’s an impressive achievement, especially considering the technology was developed in a dormitory. DisplAir is made to detect small finger movements as opposed to sweeping gestures in a game system; it can scan for 1,500 points of contact with accuracy up to 1 centimeter, depending on the size of the “screen,” which can range from 40 to 140 inches.
The company is currently looking for investors, so commercial products are a long way off. Still, DisplAir estimates that devices would cost between $4,000 and $30,000 when mass-produced.
Want something right now that will let you play with 3D images like Tony Stark? Apart from the comparable Fog Screen technology (which is commercial-only), your best bet is probably IO2 Technology’s Heliodisplay, which can project interactive holograms and is plug-and-play with Windows machines via USB. (Check it out in the video below.) Units start at $48,000, however, so it may well be worth waiting for DisplAir.
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