Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed an "aerial display" that projects images measuring approximately 56 inches into mid-air.
The technology is comprised of a beam splitter, which divides incoming light into reflected light and transmitted light, and a retro-reflective sheet, which reflects incoming light back in the original direction. The two components are arranged in a set with a screen and the light projected from the screen is reflected by the beam splitter and then by the retro-reflective sheet. This caused the light to re-converge and makes images appear to be floating in the air.
Mitsubishi Electric has developed an optical simulator to calculate the ideal arrangement of all of the components and found that people who are not accustomed to focusing their eyes on open space could find it difficult to understand where an aerial image is being displayed without physical cues. To solve this discovered issue, the company developed a projection system to display guide images on the walls on both sides of the aerial image to indicate the position. This system divides an input into left and right guide images and the aerial image, but links all three.
The total display area measures approximately 90 inches diagonally.
The floating display is expected to be available commercially by 2020 and has potential applications in digital signage and video entertainment, for example displaying large images in the air above a stadium or displaying life-sized images of people for remote communication.