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The future’s coolest e-inventions

  • 4-19-2012

The future’s coolest e-inventions

Electronics is present in all areas of our lives; it helps our work and entertainment with continuously developing technologies. Let’s have a look at some futuristic, but already existing, fascinating inventions!

Volumetric 3D displays

If we display an image on a quickly rotating surface, it creates a visual representation of the object in three-dimension. If we make it very simple, the concept of volumetric display device’s operation is based on this. These devices display real, “walkaroundable” 3D pictures, and not only provide the sense of 3D pictures, as if the projected picture were in the space, like holographic displays do. How are volumetric displays able to visualize real 3D pictures? The key of the secret is that the special LED source of the device displays different images at every angles into the medium, for example into smoke or plasma space, thus the image appearing in front of us is also always different, if we look at it from other angles. The result is a statue-like image which can be walked around and observed from any directions, and to which the feeling of depth is also linked.

The Sony has already introduced a small, cylindrical, volumetric 3D display. The futuristic device has a digital video input, so it can be connected to computers and to other electronic devices. The visual content displayed in the cylinder is produced by a high-performance graphic processor in real-time. The futuristic experience can be increased; we can establish an interactive contact with the 3D image. The device is able to change, for example, the orientation of the displayed content by recognizing the user’s movements, so, for example, the 3D image can be rotated on the screen with a single movement. The possible use of the technology is almost unlimited; it may serve entertainment purposes, but it can be used as a museum display, or in video games, as well as for 3D teleconferences.


The development of the e-paper or the electronic paper started at the end of the ‘80s. The motivation to create the e-paper was to replace conventional paper printing, but it was also important to maintain the sense of comfort of the printed material. Flexibility and readability were important criteria: the surface of the e-paper need to be readable in strong exterior light without background lighting as well. In addition, the e-paper is very energy efficient: it only consumes energy, if new texts are uploaded onto it and it doesn’t need any additional power supply to keep the already displayed text. The solution of LG could be the first one, which will be commercially available; the series production of the world's first e-paper will start in April, 2012. Although the e-paper cannot be folded as traditional papers, but the new display is so flexible that it can be rolled as a newspaper. Moreover, the e-paper is very tough: it’s very difficult to break or scratch its surface.

Flexible screens

The revolution of flexible screens using OLED technology has already begun: all major consumer electronics companies have already come up with their own solutions. Unlike e-paper, these displays show true-colour movies on a few millimetres thick screen. Probably, we will meet these low-power, flexible, and above all, much lighter displays first in mobile phones and notebooks.

Watch how the Samsung imagines the use of flexible screens:

Nokia's own prototype, the Kinetic Device, has already been built in in a handheld device. Its special feature is that the flexible and thin device can be controlled without any touch; it can be scrolled or zoomed by bending the OLED display.

Watch Nokia’s flexible display:

Augmented Reality

The Augmented Reality is nothing more than a mixture of the real and the virtual world. Using a web camera and a printed marker the program visualizes the 3D object on the computer screen, no matter what it is: a car, a statue or a figure of a person. The technology is often used for marketing purposes. For example, the LEGO prints markers on some of the products’ boxes, which can be recognized by a computer's camera and then the computer plays a three-dimensional animation, which introduces the toy in the box.

Besides this, several cell phone AR applications also exist, which are slightly different from the system mentioned above. The essence of programs, which are developed for handheld devices, is that other information could be added to photos, taken with the cell phone, from the Internet. For example, in a foreign city we can take a photo of a famous building and check its more important parameters, or we can even get information about the menu of the restaurant in front of us.

Looking Glass

Mac Funamizu, future researcher, invented a glass device that combines the functions of a scanner and a digital camera in order to search the Internet on the basis of images instead of words. The looking glass ”reflects” the object, which is in front of the futuristic device, to the Internet, so we can look for other information on the World Wide Web easily. For example, if we take a photo of the street in front of us with the futuristic glass, after connecting to the internet we can check how the same street looked like 30 years ago.

Interesting facts

It is also a very important aspect that the so essential electronic devices always have to work reliably. This aim is furthered by such less spectacular, but useful developments to which BASF's innovations can make a major contribution. The sensitive components of devices, such as the CPU or the hard disk, require a steady voltage and they can be damaged in case of different current intensity. The high-purity carbonyl iron powder (CIP), developed by the chemical company, ensures that being built into high-frequency coils, components will always get the exactly right voltage.

Watch our video about how the carbonyl iron powder works: