A mid-air display of ‘floating pixels’ has been created by scientists.
Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol have used soundwaves to lift many tiny objects at once before spinning and flipping them using electric force fields.
The technology – called JOLED – effectively turns tiny, multi-coloured spheres into real-life pixels, which can form into floating displays or bring computer game characters to life as physical objects.
To be presented next week at a future technologies conference in Japan, the research opens up new possibilities for mobile and game designers, giving them a new way of representing digital information in a physical space.
Professor Sriram Subramanian, in the University of Sussex’s School of Engineering and Informatics, is the head of lab behind the research. He says: “We’ve created displays in mid-air that are free-floating, where each pixel in the display can be rotated on the spot to show different colours and images.
“This opens up a whole new design space, where computer and mobile displays extend into the 3D space above the screen.”
The pixels are levitated using a series of miniature ultrasound speakers that create high-pitched and high-intensity soundwaves that are inaudible but forceful enough to hold the spheres in place.
A thin coating of titanium dioxide gives the pixels an electrostatic charge, enabling them to be manipulated in mid-air by changes to an electric force field, created by tiny electrodes.
Dr Deepak Sahoo, Research Associate in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Sussex, said: “The most exciting part of our project is that we can now demonstrate that it is possible to have a fully functioning display which is made of a large collection of small objects that are levitating in mid-air.
“JOLED could be like having a floating e-ink display that can also change its shape.”
The paper is the first to demonstrate such a fine level of control over these levitating pixels, moving the technology closer to something that might soon be part of theme parks or galleries.
For example, in the future such a display could be placed in a public park to show to users the complex and changing patterns of carbon footprints of different countries or currency fluctuations in different regions of the world. This could allow the general public to clearly see the multi-dimensional data and interact with it.
Asier Marzo, research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol, explained: “Traditionally, we think of pixels as tiny colour-changing squares that are embedded into our screens. JOLED breaks that preconception by showing physical pixels that float in mid-air.
“In the future we would like to see complex three-dimensional shapes made of touchable pixels that levitate in front of you.”
Professor Subramanian added: “In the future we plan to explore ways in which we can make the display multi-coloured and with high colour depth, so we can show more vivid colours.
“We also want to examine ways in which such a display could be used to deliver media on-demand. A screen appears in front of the user to show the media and then the objects forming the display fall to the ground when the video finishes playing.”
The elusive and complex components of creativity have been identified by computer experts at the University of Kent.
Dr Anna Jordanous, lecturer in the School of Computing, worked with language expert Dr Bill Keller (University of Sussex) on how to define the language people use when talking about creativity, known in the field as computational creativity. With that knowledge it becomes possible to make computer programs use this language too.
Dr Jordanous and Dr Keller looked at what people say when they talk about “what is creativity” in academic discussions, from various disciplines – psychology, arts, business, and computational creativity.
In an article entitled Modelling Creativity: Identifying key components through a corpus-based approach, published by PLOS ONE, they describe a unique approach to developing a suitable model of how creative behaviour emerges that is based on the words people use to describe it. Computational creativity is a relatively new field of research into computer systems that exhibit creative behaviours.
Using language-analysis software they identified the creative words and grouped them into clusters. These are considered to be 14 components of creativity. These clusters have been used to evaluate the creativity of computational systems, and are expected to be a useful resource for other researchers in computational creativity, as well as forming a basis for the automated evaluation of creative systems.
The University of Sussex is a public research university situated on a large and open green field site on the Sussex Downs, East Sussex.
It is located on the edge of the city of Brighton and Hove. Taking its name from the historic county of Sussex, the university received its Royal Charter in August 1961. The university was shortlisted for ‘University of the Year’ in the 2011 Times Higher Education Awards. Sussex was a founding member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities promoting excellence in research and teaching.
Sussex counts three Nobel Prize winners, 14 Fellows of the Royal Society, six Fellows of the British Academy and a winner of the Crafoord Prize among its faculty. The university is currently ranked 11th in the UK, 31st in Europe, and 99th in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The Guardian university guide 2013 placed Sussex joint 27th, and the Times Good University Guide 2012 ranks Sussex 14th. The 2012/13 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed The University within the top 14 in the United Kingdom and in the top 100 internationally.
Sussex receives students from 120 countries and maintains links with research universities including Harvard University, Yale University, Georgetown University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Paris-Sorbonne University, and University of Toronto.
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An international team of scientists has set a new record for the complexity possible on a quantum computing chip, bringing us one step closer to the ultra-secure telecommunications of the future.
A key component of quantum science and technology is the notion of entangled particles – typically either electrons or particles of light called photons. These particles remain connected even if separated over large distances, so that actions performed by one affect the behaviour of the other.
In a paper, published today in the journal Science, the research team outlines how it created entangled photon states with unprecedented complexity and over many parallel channels simultaneously on an integrated chip.
Importantly, the chip was also created with processes compatible with the current computer chip industry, opening up the possibility of incorporating quantum devices directly into laptops and cell phones.
The researchers were led by Professor David Moss, the newly appointed Director of the Centre for Micro-Photonics at Swinburne University of Technology, and Professor Roberto Morandotti from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS-EMT) in Montreal, Canada.
The researchers used ‘optical frequency combs’ which, unlike the combs we use to detangle hair, actually help to ‘tangle’ photons on a computer chip.
Their achievement has set a new record in both the number and complexity of entangled photons that can be generated on a chip to help crack the code to ultra-secure telecommunications of the future.
It also has direct applications for quantum information processing, imaging, and microscopy.
“This represents an unprecedented level of sophistication in generating entangled photons on a chip,” Professor Moss says.
“Not only can we generate entangled photon pairs over hundreds of channels simultaneously, but for the first time we’ve succeeded in generating four-photon entangled states on a chip.”
Professor Morandotti says the breakthrough is the culmination of 10 years of collaborative research on complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) compatible chips for both classical and quantum nonlinear optics.
“By achieving this on a chip that was fabricated with processes compatible with the computer chip industry we have opened the door to the possibility of bringing powerful optical quantum computers for everyday use closer than ever before,” Professor Morandotti says.
The groundwork for the research was completed while Professor Moss was at RMIT. The collaboration includes the City University of Hong Kong, University of Sussex and Herriot Watt University in the UK, Yale University, and the Xi’an Institute in China.