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IO2 Technology's Heliodisplay M3 projects a floating image onto an invisible particle cloud.
Now anyone can project floating holograms -- anyone with about $20,000, that is

IO2 Technology has released its third-generation "mid-air display," boasting higher brightness and resolution, as well as advancements in image clarity and stability.

The $18,400 system, which produces an impressive 3-dimensional display that appears to hover in mid-air, now features native 1024x768 resolution and significantly quieter operation according to the manufacturer. The previous version of the Heliodisplay was limited to native SVGA resolution of 800x600. For $1,000 more, buyers of the new Heliodisplay
M3 can opt for a touch-sensitive version of the projector that also acts as a computer input device, providing cursor control in a desktop PC environment.

Although the company has been careful to say very little about how its patented and patent-pending technology works, designer Chad Dyner has confirmed in interviews that the device works on the principal of projecting an image onto a cloud of microscopic particles, presumably water vapor, which is created using proprietary thermodynamic process. The effect is startlingly reminiscent of the floating hologram of Princess Lei from the movie Star Wars.

According to the patent granted granted to Dyner in 2005, the Heliodisplay operates "by ejecting atomized condensate present in the surrounding air, in a controlled fashion, into an invisible particle cloud." The cloud is produced using a heat pump, according to the patent office,  which creates a thermal differential to extract condensation from the ambient air. That condensation is pumped into an expansion chamber where it is atomized, then forced through an ejection nozzle to create a particle cloud screen. The patent also covers use of an optical system to detect and track movement in and around the mist, and using the tracking information for control functions.

The improvements introduced in the new M3 model are expected to make the projector more marketable for professional applications, such as teleconferencing and high-end displays in board rooms, product showrooms, museums and hotel or corporate lobbies.

IO2 released it's second generation mid-air display in May, 2006.

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two-dimensional resolution?
By lplatypus on 3/2/2007 2:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
features native 1024x768 resolution

Shouldn't the resolution be quoted with three dimensions, eg 1024x768x512? Or can this device only display a rectangular surface (a bit like the 3D graphics in "Doom") rather than pixels arbitrarily located in the 3D space?

RE: two-dimensional resolution?
By Hypernova on 3/2/2007 2:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
This is not a 3d display but rather something that creates it's own screen in mid air.

RE: two-dimensional resolution?
By Dianoda on 3/2/2007 3:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
Damn that is cool. Lock a bunch of engineers in a room and it seems like just about anything is possible; props to team that this a reality. The only thing left to wonder is: when will an average bum like me be able to afford one?

RE: two-dimensional resolution?
By Dianoda on 3/2/2007 3:44:59 AM , Rating: 2
Ah man...typos, I wish my brain would function better this late at night. Ya, I meant to say: props to the team that made this a reality. Grammar, the silent killer.

RE: two-dimensional resolution?
By scrapsma54 on 3/2/2007 8:40:22 AM , Rating: 2
technically its 3d since it can direct the particles and emit the light it needs in a 3d shape.

By ADDAvenger on 3/2/2007 10:53:28 AM , Rating: 2
Would it be 3D in the sense that the picture is diagonal to the ground? Ie the pixels are above and in front of each other because it can't project an image through its own pixels?

Actually that's assuming the projector is below the mist, it could be behind it at a low angle..

Whatever this is, it's pretty sweet.

RE: two-dimensional resolution?
By KaiserCSS on 3/2/2007 2:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, according to the product info found at the bottom of this page: it's capable of up to 1280x1024. That's pretty good.

However, there's that issue of flicker. I'm thinking there might be a way to stabalize the top of the projected image using some sort of cieling-mounted device. I don't have a clue how this works though; it's just an idea. Personally, I wouldn't touch this display until they fix the flicker/wavering problem with the top of an image.

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