Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a communication device like those in Star Wars, brought to life.
Researchers in England are working on a 3D projection that can rival the one in "a galaxy far, far away," said Ian Sample at The Guardian. The device displays floating images that "talk and interact with onlookers," much like the communications devices imagined in Star Wars. This projector uses ultrasonic waves between two horizontal plates to levitate a small, colorful plastic bead.
The bead moves "at speeds approaching 20 mph" to trace shapes in the air. "The brain doesn't see the moving bead, only the completed shape." But scientists can manipulate the object by controlling the ultrasonic field to "make objects speak or add sound effects and musical accompaniments." So far, the researchers have demonstrated a butterfly flapping its wings and a rotating planet Earth.