Image from the AIST Tokyo website
Amit linked to an interesting technology of projecting 3D plasma shapes in the air, using lasers.
I was under the impression that laser needs a surface to be visible; apparently not:
The display utilises an ionisation effect which occurs when a beam of laser light is focused to a point in air. The laser beam itself is invisible to the human eye but, if the intensity of the laser pulse exceeds a threshold, the air breaks down into glowing plasma that emits visible light. [source]
Aside of physics books, my first experience with lasers was when a little red dop appeared out of nowhere on the front of my pants, in the school bus. Everyone else was most amused. Soon we began hearing about the laser menace, particularly in school assemblies and movie theaters. The craze, and it was a craze, has since (thankfully) died out.
According to a spokesperson for the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tokyo:
“We believe this technology may eventually be used in applications ranging from pyrotechnics to outdoor advertising,”
Here are some alternate uses, once it has been fully developed:
1. Signalling Batman
2. Broadcasting the (Football) World Cup.
3. For creating the illusion of a comet striking the earth, or an alien attack, by miscreants
4. Blacking out the moon on karva chauth (hehe)
5. Flashing emergency messages
6. Threatening other nations – a visual of missiles raining down would probably be more effective than a written letter
7. Live broadcast of petitions being signed. Imagine a situation where citizens can sit outside every evening and sms their votes on laws, and see the count. Would make the redundant parliament, well, redundant.
8. Displaying the largest chatroom in the world, so that everyone can see what people are really talking about.
Oh well – cant think of any more right now. Your turn.