We’re One Step Closer To Making ‘Star Trek’s Holodeck A Reality

Of all the far-flung technologies we most want to see, the holodeck is probably at the top of the list. A machine that could create your wildest fantasies and make them seem real? Heck, some people would probably never leave the holodeck! Ever! For any reason!

Uh, OK, maybe the holodeck is a bad idea. But we’ve had a major breakthrough in making it happen… by being able to project invisible objects that you can touch in three-dimensional space. How? Ultrasound!

The video above details using ultrasound to create, essentially, floating 3D models you can feel. The system uses overlapping sound pulses to create the illusion of shapes floating in front of you that you can touch, but not see.

The idea currently is to combine it with imaging systems for doctors. For example, if a doctor were excising a tumor, the area could be imaged and combined with a holographic projection so you’d have a real, three-dimensional model of the tumor. The doctor could feel around a bit and get a sense of where to go before cutting you open. But, of course… why limit it to medical imaging?

This is still testing to some degree; we know it works, but it’s a matter of integrating it with other systems and finding the right use for it. But don’t be surprised if theme parks soon have crude holodecks as an attraction. Just don’t ask them for the Riker Special.