Lemme start by showing you where we are today:
You know that scene from every sci-fi movie you ever watched? Where someone sits down at a fancy table, a 3D world floats up out of the table, and they reach into the world and start designing stuff, or poking around, or doing something else that feels futuristic and wonderful.
I grew up watching those movies, and whenever that scene came into my head, the engineer/inventor part of my brain would pipe up and say, "yeah, but how are they *doing* that?" That little voice never went away. It just stuck around, doodling ideas about oscillating swept-volume POV displays in my french notebooks in high school, tinkering with ideas about pigmented volumetric displays in my college hackerspace, making more spinning swept-volume stuff during internships, and so on and so forth. It just felt funny -- people had been imagining this stuff in fiction for ages, but nobody was talking about how to actually make this actually happen.
As luck would have it, about four years ago, my friend Shawn and myself found ourselves in an unexpected moment of unemployment. Facing the void will make you do weird things. In our case, it made us start a company to make the sci-fi world of holograms a reality.
Trying to make holograms real is a weird, nebulous problem. Over the past four years, we've invented and built about a dozen different technological approaches, all addressing various aspects of what the zeitgeist calls holograms: volumetric prints, swept-volume volumetric displays, LED cubes, projected volumetric displays and 2D aerial displays, to name a few. This buildlog isn't really about those technologies, though -- this is focused on our development of an interactive aerial display. If you want to check out earlier work, dig the historical link barf below
volumetric prints: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lookingglass/looking-glass-hologram-20
swept-volume volumetric displays:
projected volumetric displays: https://www.facebook.com/gizmodo/videos/10154388795908967/?video_source=pages_finch_main_video
Hey, you made it through the link catacombs! Great! Well, let's get down to brass tacks -- how to make things float, and how to interact with things that aren't there. This video is where it all began, some years ago, with a parlor trick that makes some LEDs appear to float in midair. Here's our first prototype amazing my partner Shawn's kids.
the rest? The rest is in the build logs.