Advancements in display technology, whether it’s in the form of 3D holographic technology or acoustic levitation, seem to be breaking new barriers and it can only be described as fascinating. A recent Engadget article entitled, “Forget holograms, here’s a ‘floating e-ink’ display,” showcases JOLED, an acoustic elevation system that uses sound waves to suspend objects in mid-air coated in titanium dioxide.

If that wasn’t cool enough, Israeli start-up RealView has designed the world’s first 3D medical holography display called Image Intimacy. Their proprietary technology projects hyper-realistic 3D holographic images that not only appear in free space, like the floating e-ink display but also allow the user to interact with the object in real-time.

JOLED and Image Intimacy are similar in that they can both make objects float mid-air, but that’s about it when it comes to similarities. JOLED combines both acoustic levitation and electric rotation to suspend and then move spheres mid-air. RealView Imaging, on the other hand, has managed to invent and develop a system that can receive a volumetric stream such as 3D Ultrasound, convert it in real-time to interference patterns and project true holograms.

To clarify the differences even further, JOLED uses voxels or sphere-like objects to suspend objects in mid-air; whereas RealView Imaging uses light beams to project one image onto another. Both are incredible technologies but to compare the two is like comparing apples to oranges – except that according to RealView’s website, “the interaction with the image is as intuitive as grabbing an apple.”

As far as real-world application, they both seem to have found their niche. JOLED, for example, since its e-ink display can change shape, will most likely be used in commercial or tourism settings as a real-time media-on-demand presentation. University of Sussex’s Sriram Subra Manian said, “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.” Just imagine a floating image highlighting Disney’s Space Mountain rollercoaster attraction and then when it gets to the most exciting part of the ride, the display turns into a million balls, falls to the ground and disappears.

Unlike JOLED, RealView’s Image Intimacy 3D hologram system has found its place as a medical device. The floating image allows the medical professional to probe, morph, reposition, adjust, etc. without the limitations of 2D system like a laptop or x-ray machine. From measuring the length of a baby in their third trimester to determining the exact location of a stent, RealView’s imaging system is complimentary to all available technologies that generate 3D content (3D-CT, 3D Rotational Angiography, 3D-Ultrasound, etc.). Just imagine a Cardiologist having the ability to mark exact locations on a patient’s 3D heart hologram prior to a triple bi-pass surgery. Wouldn’t that be a game-changer in the world of heart surgery?

So what does this all mean for the future of display technology? It essentially means that breakthrough display technology, whether in the prototype phase or the clinical trial phase, is going to introduce itself at some point in the future. JOLED, for example, is a working principle that “scientists hope to increase the pixel density as well as the number of colors displayed – and will be presenting their research next week at Japan’s ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium.” RealView’s Image Intimacy is a bit further along the pipeline being used in collaboration with Phillips Healthcare and Schneider Children’s Medical Center in clinical trial setting.