3D display made of flying pixel-copters on the anvil

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London, Feb 26 (ANI): The idea of pixels flying around like helicopters and coming together to form a coherent image in three dimensional space may sound pretty farfetched, but researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology think it's possible.

Two teams at MIT are working on a unique 3D display dubbed Flyfire, in which a flock of tiny aircraft carrying multicoloured LEDs hover in front of the viewer to form an image.

As pixels that can move through space, the free-flying LEDs could form a shape-shifting 3D display.

As well as the pixels displaying moving images like a normal screen, they could change their position to add real depth.

"We're fascinated by the idea of flying pixels. It's a 3D display with a dual aspect - it can show an image like a traditional display, but then those pixels can move and transform into another shape," New Scientist quoted E. Roon Kang at the SENSEable City Laboratory, as saying.Emilio Frazzoli, head of MIT's Aerospace Robotics and Embedded Systems lab, coordinated the initial proof-of-principle experiments using quad-rotor helicopters, each a few tens of centimetres across.

"We have run experiments with up to 10 quads," he said.

Frazzoli's team can precisely control each helicopter's altitude to within 3 centimetres.

"Horizontal positioning is harder - I would say to within 10 centimetres. We're working on it," he said.

Kang said that the ultimate goal is to make a Flyfire display containing 1000 or more much smaller flying pixels.

"If, when that happens [in five years or more], there are other smaller-scale technological or even biotechnological solutions, we should use those instead of the helicopters," he said.

Frazzoli said that with that number of pixels flying around, manoeuvres would have to be carefully choreographed to minimise collisions.

A combination of onboard controls and a central control system that communicates with all the aircraft will be needed to coordinate pixel movement, he said. (ANI)

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