Japanese scientists from the Utsunomiya University Center for Optical Research and Education have created a hologram that can be safely handled, according to the Toronto Star. The three-dimensional virtual objects were created using a process called "femtosecond laser technology," which takes advantage of lasers that travel at one-millionth of one-billionth of a second. These lasers are used in combination with cameras and mirrors to direct tiny points of light in specific directions in order to create high-resolution images.
"People's daily lives would change if we use a bigger laser in a bigger space where people can interact with it, and to see how it can be used in situations where three-dimensional communication is necessary such as a construction site or in the medical field," said Yoichi Ochiai, who is heading the research and published a paper outlining the unique technology.
The laser pulses respond to human touch, meaning that humans can interrupt these pulses and manipulate the pixels of the holograms in mid-air, according to Reuters. Although current light technology doesn't allow humans to interact with light as matter, Ochiai hopes to change this.
"You can't actually feel the videos or pictures, and although you can project a video, you can't interact with it by touching it," he said. "So, if we can project an image in a three dimensional form, and if you can touch it, then you can make something where you'll think that there actually is something there."
Previous efforts to create holograms that allow human interaction failed; although scientists were able to demonstrate them, the laser beams burned the skin when touched.
Currently, the technology shows potential for use in medicine, entertainment, architecture and manufacturing.