Touchable holography

Professor Hiroyuki Shinoda and his colleagues at Tokyo University are making headway in haptic holography, 3D projections you can actually feel. I first experienced something like this probably 15 years ago at the late holography pioneer Steve Benton's laboratory at MIT's Media Lab. Back then, the hologram was grainy and grayscale and the physical feedback came from a handheld Phantom stylus that provided some sensation of touching a real object. Based on this demonstration, it appears that the technology has come a long way. From Reuters:

By using ultrasonic waves, the scientists have developed software that creates pressure when a user's hand "touches" a hologram that is projected.

In order to track a user's hand, the researchers use control sticks from Nintendo's popular Wii gaming system that are mounted above the hologram display area.

The technology has so far been tested with relatively simple objects, although the researchers have more practical plans, including virtual switches at hospitals, for example, and other places where contamination by touch is an issue.

"Japan scientists create 3-D images you can touch" (Reuters, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Touchable Holography (University of Tokyo)