Helio Display: Images out of Thin Air

Okay. It’s wholly impractical and, if we can dismiss the “damn that’s cool” factor for a moment, really doesn’t display images very clearly or steadily.

Just the same, the $20,000 Helio Display, which uses a rear projector to display an image on jets of condensed air, is is still … well, damn cool!

Pretty cool. :slight_smile:

I don’t see how they can get rid of the waviness. Any ideas?


Maybe a fraction less cool, but still amazing in that it essentially displayed an image without any screen or tube, was the “mirror screw” TV receiver employed in Germany during the Reich’s broadcast experiments in the mid-1930s. The viewer saw only modulated flashes of light projected onto a spiral turntable of long, thin mirrors, which spun around many times a second.

That reminds me of the holo display on NBC’s short-lived “seaQuest DSV” series. I believe the device on the show was meant to suggest a manner of operation nearly identical to the Helio.

But, I can’t see anyone buying the Helio for any serious use in its current incarnation. The wavering display is just too distracting.

Hmm, if I’m not mistaken, you could use such a technique to transmit three dimensional images!

Did they do that?


Just what I thought of too when I saw the youtube clip. Why on earth did they keep it in the captain’s quaters? Why not some knarly holo communications a la Star Wars for the bridge?

Cool as it looks at first blush, I doubt they’ll be able to do anything practical with it. No matter how narrow and/or strong the jets, blowing air is going to produce a shimmering curtain effect. Aerodynamics 101. The only way to stabilize the airflow is to give it a narrow channel to flow through – say, two pieces of plexiglass 1/8" apart. Of course, then you’ve got a solid screen which negates much of the novelty of the display method. You might as well just use a piece of coated transflective glass, then.

This tech will make really great Halloween decoratons.

No, because even if the mirror screw TV could project 3-D images, they would have needed a mirror screw camera to pick them up. No such thing was ever contemplated.

Then there’s writing on water with Amoeba:


note: despite the url name, it’s perfectly safe for work.