Spatial projection displays are the future for signage, says Omron Electronic Components Europe. Their technology allows directions and other images to appear floating in the air in shopping malls, transport terminals and other locations.
Masayuki Shinohara, an engineer who led the commercialization of aerial imaging at Omron, remembers, “Omron’s research of light control technology had already been launched before I joined the company.”
That was more than 20 years ago...He says his predecessors had accumulated light technologies one after another, in the same way that each stratum of earth stacks one layer atop the previous. The outcomes of their endeavor were passed on to Shinohara, and this eventually came to fruition in the form of aerial imaging.
“By 2020, I want to fill the entire city of Tokyo with aerial images. Our goal is to make aerial imaging something that is commonly used and found everywhere in the city,” says Shinohara-san.
Imagine, says Omron, you are walking in a large transportation terminal with an intricate web of passageways. If there is an easy-to-understand 3D sign floating in the air by the exit or at each corner of the station, you will no longer need to worry about losing your way. Aerial imaging can also project a floating image of information in front of products on display in a showcase.
Commenting, Gabriele Fulco, European Product Marketing Manager Sensors of Omron said: “This is the future of signage. We believe that aerial imaging will become a commonly used feature of our cities and public spaces. For example, easy-to-understand signs can be placed floating in the air by exits making it easier for visitors to find their way. Aerial imaging can also project information in front of products on display in a showcase.”
Using Omron’s Spatial Projection Display (SPD) technology, images can be projected anywhere and appear to be floating in the air. Earlier space projection technologies have required a large number of distinct components and are relatively large systems requiring substantial space to install.
Omron has used its light directivity and micro-fabrication technology developed through the LCD display and backlighting businesses to allow images to be projected into empty space with just one sheet of plate and a single LED. The sheets themselves are transparent, so are unobtrusive, thin and light for attaching to glass and other surfaces.
Omron is initially supporting 2D and 3D images with SPD technology. In future, it will introduce curved plexiglass panels that can be adapted to objects with shaped surfaces.