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A consortium of Japanese researchers recently unveiled a project that utilized femtosecond lasers. I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded cool, so I read on. The project, dubbed “Fairy Lights in Femtoseconds” is being officially presented at SIGRAPH 2015 this august. The team succeeded in creating 3D aerial graphics that would respond and react to the human touch.


A Femtosecond is a measure of time that’s equivalent to one quadrillionth of a second. How fast is that? One way of thinking about it is, one femtosecond is to one second as one second is to about 32 million years, explains MIT, who pioneered the technology. Practically, Femtosecond lasers are used in micromachining and Lasik eye surgery.



Using femtosecond lasers that are safe for human contact the researchers created interactive holograms that can be programmed to respond and change form in reaction to contact. The holograms proposed here are small – about 1cm cubed – but the researchers say the size is scalable, which could make things interesting perhaps in the medical imaging industry but also in visual art.

The project was spearheaded by researchers at several Japanese universities and include Yoichi Ochiai, Kota Kumagai, Takayuki Hoshi, Jun Rekimoto, Satoshi Hasegawa, and Yoshio Hayasaki. If you’re smart, unlike us, you can read more about it here.

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