For decades, science fiction writers have incorporated holograms into their narratives, but now we're finally entering the era of true volumetric displays.
Take, for instance, the Holovect device developed by optical physicist Jaime Ruiz-Avila, which is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign.
Holovect Volumetric Display explainer. Video: Patrick Delahanty/YouTube
The concept differs from competitors, such as the Voxiebox volumetric display, by using laser light voxels that float a few inches above the device. The Holovect can only produce basic projections of shapes at this point, but they are tangible, and users don't need special glasses or headsets in order to interact with them.
"It draws images in the air with light," Ruiz-Avila explains in the video. "The ideal is to get Holovects into the hands of as many people as possible—developers, programmers, artists—to see what they will come up with, and then we can develop it further."
The understated shapes produced by the display are charming in their retro way, with an aesthetic similar to early arcade games. No doubt some of the campaign's backers have sophisticated ideas for how to apply the technology, but I will be happy with a holographic version of Space Invaders.