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A 3D Display You Can Touch 63

mikejuk writes "Are we getting closer to really effective volumetric 3D display technology? A new display, designed in Russia, uses cold fog and a laser projector to create a volumetric 3D image that you can touch. A tracking device (no, it's not a Kinect) is used to detect the user's hand and moves the virtual objects in response. There have been cold fog 3D displays before, but this one has a reasonable resolution and looks near to being a finished product that could be on sale soon. Estimated price? Between $4000 and $30,000."

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A 3D Display You Can Touch

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  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:18AM (#38200298) Homepage Journal

    At last: a realistic estimate!

  • by pieisgood ( 841871 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:25AM (#38200328) Journal

    What advantage does this offer that could justify the upper bound on pricing? Is there anything that could justify a 4K price? or is this just a novel idea thing?

    • Re:$30,000? (Score:5, Funny)

      by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:02AM (#38200446)

      What advantage does this offer that could justify the upper bound on pricing? Is there anything that could justify a 4K price? or is this just a novel idea thing?

      $4k vs. $30k probably depends whether they lovingly hand-craft 10 units or get a sweatshop to knock them out in quantity.

      $4k would be low enough for some gadget freaks (i.e. the ones with $5k hi-fis and $10k tellys) with more money than sense to buy them for fun.

      $30k might be low enough for research teams with an end-of-year surplus to get one in order to investigate your first question.

      I'm sure that they'll want one on CSI but they're fictitious so its probably cheaper and more convincing to mock one up with CGI in post-production.

      Super-villains will want the 20' x 20' de-luxe model to explain their world domination plans in terms that even an over-sexed British spy or Austrian ex-bodybuilder can understand - that will cost more than $30k but (a) Super-villains never pay, they just murder the creator and (b) see 'CSI' above.

  • If it cost between 3,000 and 30,000 or between 4,000 and 40,000 I'd buy it but between 4,000 and 30,000 just sounds wrong...

  • Touch? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjymous ( 69893 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:28AM (#38200350) Homepage

    That's a funny definition of "Touch" - yes it responds to your finger, but there isn't anything physical there to push against, so it's no more a touch interface than Kinect is.

    • Re:Touch? (Score:5, Informative)

      by benjymous ( 69893 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:35AM (#38200372) Homepage

      Actually, it's worth noting that the i-programmer article that's linked first is pretty badly written, and just paraphrases the techcrunch article, anyway (which never claims that you can touch the projection, just that it's a "multi-touch" interface - ie it responds to multiple fingers)

    • Re:Touch? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:35AM (#38200374) Homepage Journal

      I think they meant "manipulate directly". I think the most impressive bit there was when he had a full 3D keyboard model up on the display.

      • I think they meant "manipulate directly". I think the most impressive bit there was when he had a full 3D keyboard model up on the display.

        You have a good eye. I noticed flat pictures. Interesting choice of media considering its a 3D display. I believe you nailed the only 3D content demoed.

        • Yeah I wondered why he was doing so much with 2D. Maybe because the input ability seems to only be in 2D right now.

          If he had a more complex input interface with full 3D positioning, Iron Man style, that would be hella cool. Much more difficult to pull off properly though.

          • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:39AM (#38201886) Homepage

            This is entirely 2D, not 3D.

            The article makes no mention of 3D. It's the dopes that mislabeled this as 3D. The slashdot submitter and editor also get blame for perpetuating the error.

            The technology uses a base unit that blows a basically 2D "sheet" of fog upwards as a display surface. Behind that there is a 2D laser projector aimed at the fog display screen.

            Some people mentioned the keyboard in the demo as 3D, but no, that was the same as any ordinary 2D windowing system. The 2D keyboard that came up merely replaced the 2D content that was supposedly 'behind' it.


    • That's a funny definition of "Touch" - yes it responds to your finger, but there isn't anything physical there to push against, so it's no more a touch interface than Kinect is.

      There are times I have referred to reggae as "hip hop", all SUV's as Jeeps, and all mp3 players as iPods. It's not that I didn't know their real names. It's just that sometimes I think it's more important to say something people will understand.

    • For an actual touchable hologram, see this SIGGRAPH 2009 [] presentation. It uses something called acoustic radiation pressure [] based on ultrasound projection.

    • by EdZ ( 755139 )
      Forget not being able to touch it, it isn't even 3D! Not volumetric, not even stereographic, it's just a regular old flat plane.
  • 2D mockup of 3D (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's like the image resulting from a texture mapping of a 3D world from the vantage point of a 2D organism. It only works, and only barely so, when standing directly in front. Start moving to the side and you lose your 3D.

  • Pron (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JohnConnor ( 587121 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:41AM (#38200382) Homepage

    I can imagine the new porn that will come out... literally!

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:55AM (#38200422)

    You could buy a whole VR toolkit for that.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But who's gonna fly it, kid? You?

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @06:58AM (#38200432)
    "Touch me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only bloke."
  • Sticking my fingers into a cold fog all day seems highly unappealing.
  • Won't ship (Score:5, Funny)

    by bruno.fatia ( 989391 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:16AM (#38200496)

    It's just another piece of vaporware!

  • It's 2D!!! WTF?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrokenBeta ( 1007449 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:19AM (#38200502)

    Bad slashdot reporting as usual.

    The big deal here is the "mid-air" aspect, i.e. no actual surface.

    However the display is 2D and the article makes no claim for it being 3D. It's not volumetric, it's not 3D. It's a projector.

    It's very cool, and Slashdot has just completely misrepresented it. Well done.

  • It only seems that every other week there's a new concept or at least some advances/new implementations of old concepts for 3D displays.

    It's clear that people wanna move forward but we're still laughing at those that bought 3D glasses + 3D TVs, so slow down a bit, please.

  • Reading the title I was excited because I thought someone solved the problem with projecting 3D into fog - but that is not the case. Seems like the media in general want everything to be 3D these days. And if it is not a flat monitor is must be 3D right ? - Interesting display concept but still only 2D as many people already pointed out.
  • This is 3D? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Khith ( 608295 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:42AM (#38200582)

    While the video looks impressive at first, since this is an unusual way of displaying video and tracking user input, I didn't see them doing anything that you couldn't do with a touchscreen.

    The video shows a lot of sliding and manipulating images (rotating, zooming, pinching, etc) but I noticed that they were only controlling the X and Y axes. I kept hoping that they would rotate something in the Z axis or perhaps place a 3D object behind another, but it was just one of the typical "sort through a bunch of photos" demos that we've seen many times before.

    I know that this isn't the final version, but I don't see how something like this would be useful until it can actually track and utilize that third dimension. Right now it looks flashy and may lead to a true 3D display, but this seems to be a 2D screen suspended in mist with motion tracking. It certainly isn't going to be portable like a tablet, and the wavering display isn't going to be as good as a proper screen. The 200ms of input lag is rather unimpressive as well.

    I would absolutely love to have a good 3D display with true 3D motion tracking, even if it led to me having gorilla arms. We've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go as well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is not new technology, There was this Heliodisplay which demonstrated FAR higher quality (and larger size) than this very crude demonstration, and that was some 6 years ago. And yet this technology has yet to gain any foothold, which is probably because it's inherently unfeasible and people rather buy traditional screens or wall projectors, now that they have become so cheap (not to mention, they have far higher display quality than any of these fog or whatever projection screens).

  • by dew-genen-ny ( 617738 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @08:19AM (#38200742) Homepage
    Past about 6in and the resolution/consistency of image is shocking.... Notice how he has to keep dragging the image down to be close to the air outlet? Doesn't really look ready for prime time. (and come to think about it I can't imagine how they will solve keeping the air flows regular over large distances....)
  • At this point I think it would be easier to invent some kind of optic implant to fool your brain into thinking you're looking at a 3d display, rather than actually trying to find some way to reflect photons in mid air.

    This would have the added bonus of privacy unless you opt to "share" your display with others nearby. Anyone you're not sharing the display with would just see you waving your hands around like a lunatic.
    • I would rather have augmented reality glasses. Implants are expensive and require surgery, and contacts are annoying (not to mention how expensive an LCD screen+computer embedded into a contact lens would be...).
  • I don't think that can be useful at all if you have to have your arms in the air, they will get tired very soon*.

    We can write hours in our computers today because our arms rest over a table and our fingers over the keys themselves (action/reaction/force/etc).

    *Unless you're Chuck Norris, of course.

  • Sure, it's implemented on a 3D surface, but the demo didn't show any real 3D features. It looked like a 2D screen floating in space.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.