IO2 Technology has released its Heliodisplay that projects a 2-dimensional mid-air display with up to 1024 x 1024 resolution. It appears to be convincingly 3-dimensional though, and can be interactive, allowing a finger or hand to move images around in the air as if one were grabbing a virtual object or icon.
An optical tracking system is used to detect finger or hand movements in the image and move the cursor correspondingly.
The heliodisplay is about the size of a large computer tower turned on its size and can be hidden away into furniture. For example, the heliodisplay can be enclosed within a coffee table. A slot cut into the table is below where the image is displayed and openings in the rear of the table allow for power cords, video cables and ventilation. The display can be viewed in an office environment but not in bright sunlight. The darker the background and lighting, the better the display quality. It is not suited to outdoors use where wind could disperse the particle cloud.
The image is actually projected onto a cloud of microscopic particles, thought to be water droplets although IO2 is not conforming this, saying its technology is sensitive. What is displayed is what would be seen on a computer screen. Images appear different from images on traditional displays in that, although colours are fully rendered and text is legible, image definition and fidelity are inferior to those seen on cathode ray tube screens and LCD screens. Examples of displayed images can be seen at the IO2 Technology website.
The company expects its technology to improve and suggests applications such as eye-catching office and factory reception areas and trade shows, museums, and teleconferencing. Think of it as a floating touch-screen.
A Heliodisplay costs $18,400 (£9,560) with touch-sensitivity adding a further $1,000 (£520).