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Emerging Technologies

Screen less Display

The 21st century has brought us much in the realm of digital technologies with a screenbased interface, but what happens when our use of screens is being challenged? Technological
advancement in the past has always seemed to favor gadgets that can execute more tasks while
occupying less physical space: i.e. smartphones are thin all-in-one gadgets that can fit in your
pocket, and Kindles are a book collection without the burden of carrying the ample weight
around. The benefit of our digital technologies has seemed to lean more toward convenience
than anything, but at the same time, a smaller physical space makes an interface much more
difficult to use and interact with. For example, even though many smartphones have a notes
feature where the use of free-writing is possible, nobody would type out a novel on this
technology: because even though the smartphone is a convenient tool, typing for long periods of
time on such a small device can cause problems to the hands and the eyes. Now, what if we
were to take an image, and somehow project it without physical limitation? This is exactly what
screen less displays right now are being made to accomplish.
Screen less displays would bring our everyday user interfaces to a whole new level
allowing interactivity with two dimensional or three dimensional images less the expense of
cluttering our physical environment. Most every type of research or digital experiment is done
using a computer screen, keyboard, and mouse, but a screen less display would give us the
ability to play around with a life-sized visual image that is not physically cumbersome. Not only
will this help to reduce a select few health risks involved with our small screen-based
technologies now (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, straining of the eyes according to the

AFSCMEs The Keys to Healthy Computing: A Health and Safety Handbook), but it will
revolutionize our ability to understand complex physical systems from our homes. Giving a
much more hands-on experience than a computer screen ever could, these technologies could
give way for a generation of much more skilled, young engineers straight out of the educational
system.
The ever expansive sci-fi genre in our literature has portrayed this technology in
countless imaginative ways in the past: The film Star Wars brought to life by George Lucas in
1977 utilized a holopad communicator where the image of the person on the other end of the
communication device was projected into the air, which intrigued audiences. I remember being
younger and wanting so badly a communication device that would allow me to visually see the
person that I would be conversing with, and this passion began with the memorable line: Help
me Obi-Wan Kenobi, youre my only hope. Although the idea of hologram communicators
comes directly from science-fiction literature, we have already reached a point in our
technological prowess where laser-projected keyboards are a commercial product and in the
hands of the consumers (e.g. the Celluon Magic Cube), so projecting interactive images onto
various types of surfaces or even the air cant be too far off in the distant future. In fact, were
very close to being able to project entire images into what seems like suspended air by using
water vapor.
Somewhat of a precursor to our eventual goal of efficient hologram projections, we have
interfaces that are projected onto water vapor, better known as Fog Displays. This emerging
technology is the beginning of an incoming series of products heavily based on a screen less
display. How does this type of technology work? There are a few iterations of this technology in
development right now, but there is one common method of execution: according to the About

Us section of FogScreens website, one of the two major consumer products involving with this
technology, water vapor is used to create a semi-transparent wall, then it is illuminated with a
projector to display images that appear to float in midair.
With our devices growing smaller and smaller for efficiency purposes, a major step
forward from here is to expand beyond physical limits. Which is why Maxim Kamanin, Russian
developer and creator of the other major fog display product, Displair, believes that high-tech
displays created by mist and air are the next step in visual technology, CNNs Arion McNicoll
and Monique Rivalland wrote. Kamanin had a similar view to the many other designers
interested in this field: he wanted to invent something that would allow people to display and
interact with information without cluttering the physical environment, and the solution was
projecting 3D images onto sheets of mist (McNicoll and Rivalland).
"An airstream is created from tiny water drops, similar to the ones in the clouds. The
water drops are so tiny they don't have any moisture in them; you can test it on paper or
your glasses -- your piece of paper will remain dry and your glasses won't steam up. We
can then see images that are projected onto these tiny water drops" is how Kamanin
explained the process to CNN.
CNNs Arion McNicoll and Monique Rivalland also reported that large companies such as
Google and Coca-Cola are currently using this type of technology for advertising purposes, but
Kamanin sees much more potential for practical purposes. According to Displairs official
investor presentation, A Breakthrough in Image Display Technologies version 1.42 made in
March of 2012, the systems potential applications include advertising, education, business use,
medicine, design, and entertainment. The presentation also states that the system is completely
safe without the effect of eye fatigue, and causes no harm to the environment as a highly energy
efficient technology. With motion sensing technologies, the Displair can identify 1500 different
hand movements already associated with the use of a smartphone or tablet, including pinching to

zoom in and out, and swiping the rotate a three dimensional image. Soon, every consumer will
be able to explore the most complex anatomy of physical objects from their homes.
Why the step toward innovative science-fiction influenced technologies now when the
personal computer had only started to become popular in the late 80s to early 90s? Its because
the invention of the personal computer with the aid of the internet has given us the ability to
accelerate our rate of technological innovation since their conception. But with the computer
came its health risks, and although we dont yet know what the possible risks of screen less
displays are, we know that this emerging technology will help to improve the conditions left to
us by digital multi-touch displays; It is much harder on the eyes to look at a screen all day than it
is to look at an image projected on a curtain of water vapor.
With this technology, we are looking at a much safer and interactive way to use personal
interfaces. I can see a future where classrooms integrate this technology to further the hands-on
experience of students in the educational system, where you can call your family from a
university and be able to visually see them standing in front of you, where homes install
hologram rooms for the purpose of easily modified interior design. The social impact of screen
less displays is substantial: potentially affecting every aspect of our lives from the
communication field to engineering, medicine, and the sciences.

Works Cited
"About Us." FogScreen. FogScreen, n.d. Web. <http://www.fogscreen.com/about-us/>.
DISPLAIR: A Breakthrough in Image Display Technologies Investor Presentation. N.p.: Displair,
Mar. 2012. PDF
McNicoll, Arion, and Monique Rivalland. "In Thin Air: Could Touch Display Projected on Mist
Replace Physical Screens?" CNN. Cable News Network, 24 Dec. 2013. Web. 03 May
2014.
RedOrbit Staff. "Russian Firm Developing Visual Display That Uses Water Vapor." Displair
Creating Interactive 3D Display Using Mist. RedOrbit, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 02 May
2014.
"The Keys to Healthy Computing: A Health and Safety Handbook." AFSCME. American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, n.d. Web. 02 May 2014.