Jaime Ruiz-Avila, a physics aficionado specializing in laser science and stochastic resonance systems, from Austin in Texas, has come up with an idea to create an extraordinary product which draws objects in the air with light. He has designed Holovect – the world’s first holographic vector display. This gadget can draw 3D objects in the air without the need for a screen or a projection surface.

Jaime Ruiz-Avila grew up a big Star Wars fan. One of his favorite scenes was in the original movie, when Luke Skywalker’s adventure is kicked off after R2-D2 projects a ghostly holographic image of Princess Leia saying, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Ruiz-Avila, inspired by the scene, has projected Holovect Mk II.

His product is a self-contained laser-based volumetric display system that fits on a lab bench or desktop. It is the perfect companion to a 3D printer and a stand-alone educational or promotional device. The Holovect Mk II is the first commercially available, laser-based desktop “holographic” display, capable of drawing 3D objects in the air with light.

What is fascinating, however, is that the Holovect images are not holograms but, instead, volumetric vector images projected onto modified air (i.e. projections in space). This distinction is important because a hologram is specifically a recording of interference patterns on film or glass plates that contains three-dimensional information about an object. Do you know that Greek word “holo” means whole or complete, and “gram” means record!


So how does it work? The creator claims that the principles are simple. When light travels between two different mediums, in most cases, you get three different effects to some degree: refraction (bending), reflection, and/or diffusion, depending on the different “refractive index” (RI) of the materials. An example of this are mirages, which occur when a portion of air has a different RI than its surroundings, causing light beams to bend and be reflected in unexpected ways. This can happen because of temperature or pressure differences from one region to the next.

With the DIY holovect technology, Ruiz-Avila, and his team have invented a method for controlling air, within a box-shaped section of space, to precisely modify the RI within specific regions to refract and reflect a laser beam. Therefore, by simultaneously controlling the aim of the laser and the position of a modified air column, a computer can place a volumetric pixel or voxel of light anywhere in 3D space.


“Vect” objects are the data-structure developed for the Holovect. Put simply, it is a list of 3D coordinates that result in lines drawn in a head-to-tail sequence in space, which are compiled into vect class objects. These objects can be manipulated using the control knob, preset functions such as spin and move, or used within your own applications.

The device can be used to visualize CAD models in STL format before 3D printing. This can be done in two ways: importing STL files and converting them to vect format, or visualizing them directly. Other applications include the visualization of 3D data acquired through a 3D scanner, or a computed tomography scan. Commercial applications could also include advertising and branding.

Holovect Kickstarter

Holovect’s founder ensures that games, tools, and art applications are all in the works and should be available to users by shipping time. Furthermore, the hardware will accommodate any advancements in 3D image capture and creation.

Thus, if you would like to combine your desire for physics science with Star Wars inclinations, you have to pre-order an early bird version of display for $750 as soon as possible. Nothing can be easier that that! You just have to support Holovect’s campaign on Kickstarter. May the Force be with you!


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