A tactile 3D display, created with sound
A tactile 3D display, created with sound


To the human eye there appears to be a
glowing three-dimensional butterfly moving around inside this black box. In
fact all it is, is a tiny polystyrene bead. Wow, that’s really small. Yes, it’s like a one millimeter, two millimeter bead. It’s suspended and we can move it so
fast to create a 3D shape. This is a volumetric display. It’s an image that
exists in real 3D space and this latest development in the field is unique in
that it uses sound waves not only to create the image but also to add audio
and tactile sensations. Oh yeah you can feel, it’s like really, oh like it’s kind
of gentle buzzer breeze. My name’s Lizzie Gibney and I’ve come to the University
of Sussex in the UK to see that display for myself. The most surprising thing
about it is that it doesn’t look like a flat projection. You can see that it’s
really floating there in three dimensions and in person the image
doesn’t flicker like it does on camera. People don’t believe it and then there’s
this magical moment where they go like “Wow that’s real” The display works by a process
called acoustic levitation. In the walls of this box are arrays of speakers
producing sound waves. So by using the ultrasound, creating a standing wave and this small tiny small bead. The speaker’s create areas of high pressure that can trap a polystyrene
bead and suspend it in midair. Moving the bead around and shining a light on it
creates a glowing moving dot. Move that dot around fast enough, and you can
create shapes in the air. What we’ve created is a acoustophoretic
volumetric display. So we basically use sound to trap a lightweight object in free space and we can update its position at very high
update rates. So fast that persistence of vision happens and you think it’s a full
object The team was inspired by research published last year from Brigham Young
University the American group had successfully created a volumetric
display by steering tiny particles of cellulose using laser light. They were trapping a particle with lasers and doing something very similar and for us
to be honest we were not even thinking that that could be a possibility you
know, but we looked at each other and said like “You think we can do that?” or like “I don’t know let’s try” The team at the University of Sussex has been working on using sound waves to
move small objects or create sensations for a few years. But the big challenge in
creating a volumetric display was to get the beads moving fast enough that it
appears as a single non moving image. To see as a image for human eyes the
whole path for example if you want to create a circle, this circle should be
scanned in 100 millisecond, something like that. So the beads should be moved so fast to create this path in 100 millisecond. But actually that’s not the
end of it right, so because we are updating at that speed we can also
create audio and tactile feedback so the object is singing as it’s moving
and at the same time if you bring your hand close to it you will get a
sensation of touch. The researchers can use the same waves of pressure that control the bead to create ripples in the air. Fluttering on a finger to give a
tactile experience that’s something that no other kind of volumetric display can
do. We create that focusing point to another place for tactile feedback so
it’s like a levitation, tactile, levitation, tactile, so we can switch so
quickly. But it’s so fast, we, you don’t see it when you’re watching
you don’t hear it. It does make you feel like you’re
getting closer to something. Something real, like batting wings or something. And by using the interactions between ultrasound waves the display can even
produce audible sound. “Five” “Four” “Three” “Two” “One” “Zero” At the moment the display can only create small, simple
shapes. But if the team can get their beads moving even faster, or can
manipulate multiple beads they could create bigger and more complex images.
And the team hopes that this could be the start of 3D displays becoming part
of everyday life. The idea of just 3D content to be
something that’s there. You go, you use it whenever you need to use it. You don’t
need to use it, you don’t, or I need to be seeing that 3D content but also my notes
or just check what time it is, you know. Like blending that content in our
real day-to-day life just in a seamless manner it’s something that’s very
valuable. This is literally our first step. We’ve got a long way to go but the
interesting bit is that the fundamentals that are underpinning this kind of
displays they are strong, they can really deliver all of this, and I think that’s
very exciting.

10 thoughts on “A tactile 3D display, created with sound”

  1. Red H says:

    Will be dope af for edm raves bro ! So psyched for this to become a new technological feat. Only the future knows what other applications will derive from this method

  2. Francisco Poblete says:

    Imagine this technologic evolves to holograms calls in the future

  3. WiFi Toaster says:

    Strange flex but okay

  4. OverUnity7734 says:

    I could see this using the already existing dust in a room to create the images rather than having to supply polystyrene beads.

  5. Alien says:

    Someone loves Harry Potter @5:10… whos wand is that?… (Rhetorically speaking)

  6. æþər says:

    Yo, imagine seeing this to display videos and advertisements like on akira or bladerunner.

  7. MISTER MALABAR says:

    All foreigners

  8. Jax Nean says:

    one step closer to creating Arnold Rimmer!

  9. star loard says:

    In 3D image you can't See the whole picture in just a look from a particular position….

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