Could touch display projected on mist replace physical screens?

MOSCOW -- If buttons are a thing of the past and touch screens are the present, what are the screens of the future?

It's not a riddle, but it is a trick question: if the projections of companies like Displair are true then the screens of the future won't be screens at all but interactive images floating in mid-air.

According to Russian designer Max Kamanin, creator of Displair, high-tech displays made from mist and air are "the next step in visual technology".

Tired with "electronic junk" such as TV sets and monitors, Kamanin wanted to invent something that would allow people to display and interact with information without cluttering the physical environment.

His solution? Projecting 3D images onto sheets of mist, giving the illusion of a hologram: "An airstream is created from tiny water drops, similar to the ones in the clouds. The water drops are so tiny they don't have any moisture in them; you can test it on paper or your glasses -- your piece of paper will remain dry and your glasses won't steam up. We can then see images that are projected onto these tiny water drops," he explains.

With the technology consisting of air, water and light Displair is one of the simpler concepts in the burgeoning holographic and 3D projection industry.

"I realised that everything already exists in nature and everything that people create comes from nature: we just need to watch it carefully and you will soon get your answers."

With Displair, users need not wear special glasses as with many other new screen systems because the image is being displayed onto an invisible screen; and that screen responds "intuitively" to hand movements -- 1500 of them -- many of which are similar to those used on our mobile devices, such as pinch-and-zoom.

Today the technology is being used in advertising by big companies such as Google, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, but Kamanin can see practical applications elsewhere, such as in medicine.

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