Aska3D is not ‘Just Pepper’s Ghost’

We were walking past the booth of Aska 3D and saw what looked like a typical ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ display, which are often described as ‘holographic’, but are not. We then realised that the image that was being shown was in mid-air, some distance from the display device, so we decided to take a closer look. A friend of ours, Alfred Poor, a long time observer on the display business has said that the use of the term holographic is virtually a guarantee of nothing holographic and that has been a good axiom for a long time. Once again, I fear, this display is not truly holographic.

Aska3D TechnologyAska3D’s Technology puts an image in mid-airAska3D is a product from Japanese company, Asukanet, that has developed a new plate that uses a set of vertical mirrors that reflect an image from a display in a separate cabinet. The mirrors create an image that is equidistant from the plate as the display is. No special smoke or vapour screen is needed to reveal the image which appears to ‘float in space’. The image is flat and 2D and does not change according to the point of view (although this could be done, we would think). The technology is being developed with Prof. Shinoda from the University of Tokyo, we were told.

Asuknet has combined this imaging system with a gesture recognition system based on a Microsoft Kinect that uses the image as a ‘virtual touch screen’. The image was gaining quite a lot of attention at the event.

ASKA 3D IMageThe Aska image floats in space with ‘touch’ registered via a gesture system. Image:Meko

A second system had a display surface that was surrounded by an infrared sensor array to make another virtual ‘touch display in a box’. The company said that the display has uses in applications such as medicine and factory systems where a physical touch might be a problem because of contamination.

Aska Virtual touch displayAska’s virtual touch display allows ‘touch’ without touching! Image:Meko

The system is of interest to automotive makers and the firm told us that it has been working with BMW, Volkswagen and Denso on systems for auto operation. A virtual touch display in place of a centre console could be attractive (especially when combined with ultrasound-based haptics for tactile feedback of operation – Man. Ed.).

The company sells just the special plate and so its market is to integrators that want to build complete systems with displays, housings, sensors etc.