Hologram technology developed at the University of Glasgow

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CLASSIC science fiction technology is one step closer to becoming reality with a new development in haptic holograms.

A group of engineers from the University of Glasgow have developed a new way to create a sense of physical interaction with holographic projection.

Haptic, or touchable, holograms are familiar to millions from its use in sci-fi classics like Star Trek’s holodeck, where characters would interact with solid looking computer simulations.

Professor Ravinder Dahiya lead the research group. Image courtesy of Ravinder Dahiya.

In a new paper published in the journal Advanced Intelligent Systemsthe team describe how they have developed a new technique they call ‘aerohaptics’.

The system pairs volumetric display technology with precisely controlled jets of air to create the sensation of touch on users’ hands, fingers and wrists.

A diagram of how ‘aerohaptics’ works. Image courtesy of Ravinder Dahiya.

Professor Ravinder Dahiya of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering heads the Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) research group that have advanced the system.

Professor Dahiya said: “We believe aerohaptics could form the basis for many new applications in the future, such as creating convincing, interactive 3D renderings of real people for teleconferences.

It could help teach surgeons to perform tricky procedures in virtual spaces during their training, or even allow them to command robots to do the surgeries for real. We’re looking forward to exploring the possibilities as we continue to develop the system.”

The system is based around a pseudo-holographic display which uses glass and mirrors to make a two-dimensional image appear to hover in space- a modern variation on a 19th-century illusion technique known as Pepper’s Ghost.