There’s been a lot of hubbub about 3D displays for the past few years, but those 3D televisions and movie screens are really just optical illusions. This display prototype developed by Burton actually displays images in three dimensions. Named the True 3D Display, the device uses a laser to illuminate points of light either in water or in the air. Smaller displays like this one use a tank of water with the laser rising up from below. But larger displays can be created to view 3D objects in mid-air by creating plasma excitation of environmental nitrogen and oxygen. The images created by the display can be viewed naturally by simply moving around them and looking at all sides.
In the video above, the images appear to flicker due to the difference in frame rates between the 3D display and the camera recording it. In person, it is bright, clear and beautifully three dimensional. The creators of the display want to eventually market their technology for use in digital signage, scientific examination of objects, and – once the quality improves a bit – even healthcare. This is the first technology to display images without the use of a screen, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.