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Is this the future of the touch screen?

Bringing sci-fi into reality, the Displair can turn the very air around you into an interactive 3D display.

business Updated: Sep 09, 2013 11:16 IST
3D display,touch,Displair

Bringing sci-fi into reality, the Displair can turn the very air around you into an interactive 3D display.

In the most basic terms, Displair works by generating a concentrated sheet of humid air and then projecting images through it which, thanks to the reflective and refractive nature water droplets (think

rainbows), take on a three-dimensional form that users can walk around, 'touch' or even pass their hands straight through. But the images or objects don't just hang in space, they're there to be navigated and

manipulated, just like any other touchscreen experience.

Despite being lighter than, or at least as light as air, the Displair demands that users are heavy-handed. Although it recognizes all of the swipes and gestures that Android and Apple have made commonplace,

because the screen is projected on to moisture droplets suspended in the air there is nothing behind the floating display that can respond to the touch of a single finger. Instead the Displair uses infrared and

camera sensors to track the user’s movement. It means that you have to use an arm rather than a finger and two arms rather than two fingers for swipes and for pinching to zoom. Far from being a hindrance, it just adds to the sense of occasion and to the feeling that you’re appearing in "Minority Report."

And, because the image is formed on a sheet of air droplets, there is a genuine three-dimensional depth and movement to the display as the light literally bends within the droplets as you move or look from right to left or walk right the way around the device.

In fact the only catch in terms of use and performance is that the Displair requires subdued lighting in order to work at its best.

Aimed primarily at commercial use in public spaces – think airport lounges, train stations and conference halls, the Displair can be yours for $20,000 when it starts shipping later this year.

First Published: Sep 09, 2013 11:00 IST