JOLED: a floating "dot matrix" display made of tiny balls

Display makers might be obsessed with flexible and bendable screens, but such LCDs and OLEDs aren't the only ways to make an interesting display. What about one that floats in mid air? That's precisely what engineers from the University of Sussex have tried to accomplish and have succeeded at. Somewhat. While the display does seem magical, if not strange, for floating, it is one that is so low res that you can identify each single pixel, which can display at most only two colors each.

The name of the project is JOLED, though the exact meaning of that acronym is as mystifying as the contraption itself. The "J", however, could stand for Janus, the Roman god of passages depicted two faces on one head, each facing an opposite direction. That's because each "pixel" in the JOLED is likewise, with each "face" coated with one color. Which is why a pixel can only have two colors.

Actually, calling them pixels is inaccurate. "Physical voxel" might be closer. In the end, they are, however, just tiny polystyrene beads held afloat using electric fields and ultrasound waves emitted by speakers at the top and bottom. Each bead can be controlled individually to rotate, showing one color or the other, much like turning individual pixels in computers of old.

Single balls can also be controlled to go along a path, whether predefined or controlled by a user. They can even rotate mid-air, well they are all mid-air after all, while moving, transitioning from one "pixel color" to another.

Given the hardware, the JOLED resembles more a dot matrix than more modern displays. This particular incarnation only has a 6x7 resolution even, though the researchers claim it can be expanded. If you through enough emitters and balls at it, of course.

VIA: TechCrunch