In Japan, Scientists Use Lasers to Make Touchable Holograms

Imagine being able to type on a keyboard made of nothing but light.

In Japan, Scientists Use Lasers to Make Touchable HologramsThink about how automotive design might change if engineers were able to interact with three dimensional holographic models in real time.

Thanks to new advances in femtosecond laser technology, innovations such as these may not be too far off in the future.

If you’ve ever had LASIK or cataract surgery, you may be well-acquainted with femtosecond lasers.

At the Utsunomiya University Center for Optical research and Education, researchers have used the same technology in conjunction with a series of cameras and mirrors to create high-resolution holograms that can be safely touched and interacted with.

  • Previous attempts at creating touchable holograms had failed because the high-energy lasers would burn human skin.

By utilizing the fast, short pulses of femtosecond lasers, however, scientists have finally overcome this hurdle.

Each laser pulse that comprises the hologram fires for only one millionth of one billionth of a second. When a pulse is interrupted by human touch, the hologram is able to quickly react and change accordingly.

The scientists have named their system “Fairy Lights.”

Dr. Yoichi Ochiai, one of the leading researchers on the team, is optimistic about the potential applications of touchable holograms.

“People’s daily lives would change if we use a bigger laser in a bigger space where people can interact with it, and to see how it can be used in situations where three dimensional communication is necessary such as a construction site or in the medical field,” he said in a statement.

Other fields that stand to benefit from touchable holograms include manufacturing, economics and entertainment.

As the technology becomes more accessible to mainstream markets, we may very well begin to see it permeate other industries as well.