Scientists Create Tiny Floating Pixels Using Soundwaves and Force Fields

Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 12:57

Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol have created floating pixels that can be levitated with soundwaves and electric force fields.

According to Science Daily report, this technology is called JOLED and effectively turns tiny, multi-coloured spheres into real-life pixels, which can form floating displays or bring computer game characters to life as physical objects.

This technology opens up new possibilities for mobile and game designers, giving them a new way of representing digital information in a physical space.

"We've created displays in mid-air that are free-floating, where each pixel in the display can be rotated on the spot to show different colors and images. This opens up a whole new design space, where computer and mobile displays extend into the 3D space above the screen," said Professor Sriram Subramanian, from the University of Sussex's School of Engineering and Informatics, who is the head of lab behind the research.

The Janus objects are basically tiny polystyrene beads. They are held in midair by opposing ultrasound forces being emitted from speakers above and below; each bead has its own small ultrasound pocket it sits in. By modulating the sound, that pocket can be moved around, changing the position of the bead.

The position and spin can be changed in response to input, too, allowing a user to move the ball around a track or between obstacles. With enough of these, one can imagine creating floating, touchable shapes suspended in the air. Or maybe a ball-powered display could be used as a slightly jittery second monitor.

The University of Sussex’s Sriram Subramanian and Deepak Sahoo will be presenting their work next week at the ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium.

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