3-D Gets Real

Free the man in the phone!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Imagine you’re FaceTiming with your dad. But instead of seeing his face trapped in a two-D screen, his image is free-floating in the air – in three-D! Sounds like a sci-fi movie, right? Maybe not for long!

Daniel Smalley from Brigham Young University brought this fantasy one step closer to reality. He and his colleagues beamed an image onto the air over a fingertip…. It was five times SHARPER than a printed photo! And the setup is simple: no display board, no special glasses.

How do they do it? First, they use an INVISIBLE laser beam to trap a particle mid-air. Then, they move the laser beam to draw out an object. Finally, the particle’s path was lit up with VISIBLE lasers! It’s like drawing your name at night with a sparkler… If the particle is moving fast enough, your brain sees it as one picture!

So next time you call, let’s talk face to face — in a three-D world!