Anyone who has watched the movie Iron Man or Avengers would be familiar with floating displays especially during the scenes which involve Robert Downey Jr explaining quantum physics. Well, the floating display employs a technique named as Heliodisplay which is an air based display using air that is already present in the operating environment to project things into thin air.
Founded by IO2 technology in the year 2001 the entire concept of Heliodisplay revolves around the fact that it has a projection unit which focuses multiple layers of air and dry micron size atomized particles in mid-air, which results in a two dimensional display that appears to float. The uniqueness of the entire concept lies in the fact that it is similar in principle to the cinematic technique of rear projection and can appear three dimensional when using appropriate content. Also, it allows for multiple viewing and dual viewing when combined with two light sources. With the required software installed one can use a finger, a phone as cursor control and interact with simple content.
In simpler terms the technology which allows you to leave the image suspended in air is termed as Heliotechnology. Trademarked by IO2 technology under the name “heliodisplay”; the technology can receive input from a computer, television or even from video game consoles, and project the image on a floating screen of air thereby giving the appearance of a floating, holographic 3-D image.
The entire idea of floating displays revolves around the fundamentals of electronics and thermodynamics and the screen itself is created by particles that are already present in the room. Chad Dyner, the inventor of the product, explaining the mechanics of his invention remarks that the machine creates a temperature difference in the air directly above the machine, thereby causing condensation in the air. Subsequent to this, a laser is then used to project images onto the screen of condensing air above it.
The biggest disadvantage of the product is that the image on the screen can become distorted with too much air movement in the room and the other disadvantage is the number of competitors now existing in the same field using and improvising upon the same technology. For example a Finnish company has developed a similar technology called, FogScreen that creates an image in midair by using water vapour. And it is exactly like Heliodisplay in terms of the fact that it can be touched and even walked through. However the Fogscreen when compared to Heliodisplay has a lot of disadvantages. Firstly, it is not interactive in nature and secondly, Fogscreen uses water vapour whereas Heliodisplay uses air.
In addition to the above, another company named Actuality Systems, has created a technology which produces a true 3-D image that floats in mid-air, but the image is enclosed and of a lower resolution than a Heliodisplay and is primarily used for medical purposes. Notably, Heliodisplay is a new technology and is still not intended for personal use. Though the technology has certain limitations the attention it brings is enormous which suggests that its scope in the future is enormous. Several other thin air-displays are available but Heliodisplay out classes them as it adds nothing to air and keeps the atmosphere clean. As a result it has more market value. Though it is currently expensive and unaffordable Heliodisplay technology has a great potential.