Floating Pixels Developed in the UK

Groups from the Universities of Sussex and Bristol have developed a display that uses ultrasound acoustics to suspend physical pixels in mid-air while using electrostatic force to rotate the pixel to show different colours. Dr Deepak Sahoo, Research Associate in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Sussex, said: “The most exciting part of our project is that we can now demonstrate that it is possible to have a fully functioning display which is made of a large collection of small objects that are levitating in mid-air.

The pixels are levitated using a series of miniature ultrasound speakers that create high-pitched and high-intensity soundwaves that are inaudible but forceful enough to hold the spheres in place. They can be spun and flipped using electric force fields. Image:University of Sussex

“JOLED could be like having a floating e-ink display that can also change its shape.” The video shows how the display can be used to control arrays or individual pixels, and how pixels can interact with other physical objects.

Professor Subramanian from the University of Sussex’s School of Engineering and Informatics, is the head of lab behind the research added: “In the future we plan to explore ways in which we can make the display multi-coloured and with high colour depth, so we can show more vivid colours. We also want to examine ways in which such a display could be used to deliver media on-demand. A screen appears in front of the user to show the media and then the objects forming the display fall to the ground when the video finishes playing.”

A paper on the display was presented at the 29th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, October 16-19, 2016, Tokyo, Japan.