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Inspired by Star Wars
June 3, 2014   
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Polish inventors have come up with a revolutionary display system inspired by the film Star Wars that projects interactive images reminiscent of holograms in the air.

Using a thin layer of mist, the Leia Display System can project images of excellent quality and has a multitude of potential uses, ranging from nightclubs to museums. When used in a science center, for example, it will grab a visitor’s attention—an ordinary note under a display case just can’t compete.

The Leia Display System is named after Princess Leia, who, in a scene from George Lucas’ Star Wars film, begs for help using a hologram message. That scene was an inspiration for the Leia Display System. Today, this is also the name of the Polish company that has manufactured and patented the device. It appeared on the Polish market in July last year.

The domestic market is just the first stop for the company before it expands globally. The company’s co-owner, Daniel Skutela, a graduate of the Warsaw University of Technology, started out in the lighting business. He built the Leia Display System using his own funds.

The system is intended mainly for the entertainment industry and marketing. Skutela says the system can be used wherever companies want to grab customers’ attention in an original way—for example at trade fairs, opening nights and fashion shows held in shopping centers, clubs and hotels. Such holograms can also be displayed in museums and science centers, Skutela says.

Rival systems produce images that are blurred and difficult to read in comparison, says Skutela, the chief designer of the Leia. “Our solution is the closest you can get to real hologram technology anywhere in the world.”

The Leia Display System projects images on a thin layer of water vapor. The viewer can attempt to touch the image or even walk through it. Skutela calls this a revolution in how images are displayed.

Several companies abroad construct similar devices, marketed as Heliodisplay, Displair and FogScreen. But Skutela says the Leia is easier to use and rarely crashes.

The secret of the Polish system lies in the technology that makes sure that the image projected in the air is as clear as possible at the greatest possible distance from the source. The system makes it possible to display high-resolution images, such as those seen in movies. The Polish company has filed a patent application for this process.

The Leia System uses distilled water and sounds like the average personal computer when in use. Ultrasound membranes are used to produce the mist. The standard unit is 60 cm in height and weighs about 30 kilograms, and is easy to carry. The image, sized 65 cm x 65 cm, is at the viewer’s eye level.

The dimensions of the device are related to the size of the image it projects. In the XL version, the image is sized 3 m x 2.5 m, and the unit is 1 meter in height. It weighs 250 kg and must be suspended from hooks on the ceiling or mounted onto a special grid, like lighting systems at music concerts. The screens can be combined to create what is in practice an infinitely long surface. This offers vast possibilities, Skutela says.

Thanks to motion sensors, the Leia system can react to the movement of people in the area. “Such interaction is reminiscent of science fiction movies,” says Marcin Panek, one of the device’s designers.

Leia marks a new stage in the evolution of electronic devices, according to Panek. It makes traditional computer screens and televisions seem boring and outdated. With time, these will be superseded by holographic technology.

In the future, such systems may be used to train medical students, for example. Today operations performed in virtual reality—with virtual scalpels on virtual bodies—are already the norm in some centers educating future doctors.

Meanwhile, the inventors are continuing to develop their system and are looking for new uses for it. They are working to combine the device with a Leap Motion controller that tracks the position of the fingers and hands so that a user can control a computer without the need for hand contact or touching.

Panek said, “When we display a bottle in 3D on the screen, you will be able to grab it and turn it as if you were holding it in your hand. This type of interaction was never before possible anywhere in the world. You just couldn’t put your hand through the screen; everything happened in front of it. In our case, intuitive motion will be used to control the image. This is another level of interaction between man and computer.”

Several Polish museums are interested in buying the system. The device is intended for indoor use as there cannot be a draft in the hall where the images are displayed. The intensity of lighting between the projector and the device must not exceed a certain level. The picture hangs in the air, so the background should preferably be dark and uniform.

Each product is tailored to an individual order. The global market for such innovative products is huge. The target markets for the device are the United States, United Arab Emirates, Western Europe and East Asia.

Karolina Olszewska
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