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 HeliodisplayM3 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.