The Aerial Imaging (AI) Plate, developed by Asukanet, is a next-generation display device which can form an image which appears to be floating in midair from light that passes through it. By combining this device with sensors, it is also possible to interact with the projected images.
The viewing angle of the display is plus/minus 20 degrees from an axis at 45 degrees to the plate, so the image can only be seen by people within that area. So for example, if this display is utilized for bank ATMs, the image can only be seen by the current ATM user, preventing others from seeing what data is input. Another advantage is that because the device itself isn’t touched, the display won’t get covered in fingerprints.
“At first sight, our AI Plate just looks like a sheet of glass. But in fact, it’s an optical device, designed to reflect light twice. An ordinary mirror just reflects things, but the AI Plate forms an image from light passing through the plate, at the same distance beyond the plate as the object is from the plate. Unfortunately, with a 2D camera, the floating object doesn’t actually appear to be floating, so it looks as if it’s just stuck to the glass.”
“Of course, one way of using this plate is digital signage, to show advertisements in the air. But our next development theme will be finding applications if the plate is made interactive, by combining it with sensors. For example, if an image of sushi is floating in the air, and you order some, the plate could become a point of sale device and take your order. The biggest feature of the plate is that if you switch it off, you get a flat table with nothing on it. So you can then eat your food right there, for example.”
Asukanet is also developing new technology, as an evolution of the AI Plate.
“Our new technology uses a focus-free pico-projector to create objects that move backwards and forwards. So, for example, it could be a prototype for a slot machine, where things like three sevens, which until now moved only sideways, can be moved up and down. We’d also like to see what we can achieve by changing the image distance ratio from the original 1:1 to 1:n, and using a closer light source. Currently the image quality is still quite low and it doesn’t yet produce realistic images, so another new challenge for us is forming an image further from the plate.”
“In fact, we’ve supplied prototypes to most automakers, housing makers, and slot machine makers. So, I think they’ve all been able to make mock-ups. We’re at the stage of seeing what products can be made and sold if a variety of manufacturers use the AI Plate.”