The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Touchable Holograms Bring the Holodeck One Step Closer

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Sure, the characters in the Enterprise's holodeck would occasionally try to kill you, but when they worked, the tactile holograms looked like incredible fun. Now researchers are getting closer, creating holograms that can be felt and respond to human touch.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are working to create holographic displays that mimic the sensation of interacting with solid objects. Sadly, there are none of the holodeck's forcefields at work to turn light into a solid object. Instead, the researchers place a reflective marker on a person's hand and use Nintendo Wiimotes to track the position of the hand relative to the hologram. As the hand gets near the hologram, the display triggers a feedback mechanism, which feeds acoustic radiation pressure to the hand, creating the sensation that the person is touching an object. At the same time, the hologram reacts to the hand's position, and can be batted, grabbed, or floated based on the hand's position.


At the moment, it is all an extremely clever illusion, and one in need of greater development. But I hope that the researchers plan on sticking to holograms of balls and don't get around to creating a holographic Professor Moriarty any time soon.