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Acoustic Holograms are Sort of Like a Star Trek Tractor Beam

by Shane McGlaun
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My first glimpse at a hologram came back in the ’80s when I was in a mall in Dallas, Texas. It was a video game with holograms that had lots of mirrors was at the arcade and I thought it was awesome. Fast forward to today, and researchers from the Public University of Navarre, Spain have designed something called an acoustic hologram that works sort of like a tractor beam, which can levitate and move objects in the air.

levitation_hologram_1zoom in

I say it’s “sort of” like a tractor beam because using the acoustic hologram for moving things is a bit limited right now. You can’t use it for instance to bring your beer from the kitchen to your hand while you watch the game. What the acoustic hologram can move right now are tiny, lightweight plastic beads.

Here’s a brief demonstration of the technology in action:

The object you are manipulating has to be completely within the array as well. Still, this is a good first step to a tractor beam, especially if they’re able to scale up the size of the transducers.

[via iEEE Spectrum]

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