Bristol Interaction and Graphics




We are interested in Volumetric Interactive Display Systems (VoIDS) in a three-fold way:

  • Exploring different technological solutions for implementing volumetric display devices (VoDs).
  • Enabling self-contained interactivity on VoDs.
  • Integration of VoDs with multi-display environments (MDE) resulting in hybrid MDEs.





What are volumetric display devices?
A volumetric display device (VoD) is a graphical display device that forms a visual representation of an object in three physical dimensions, as opposed to the planar image of traditional screens that simulate depth through a number of different visual effects (Wiki). In other words, when a VoD displays a 3D object e.g. a cube, it has real height and width as well as depth. Traditional screens (like 3D TVs, 3D movie cinemas) are not capable of displaying the depth and utilize visual effects to simulate the effect of depth. 

How to build a VoD?
A VoD turns a point in 3D space into a source of light, thus allowing it to be perceived by the human eye. This point source, a volumetric pixel (or voxel) can be used represent any feature of a 3D object on the display. Various implementations have been proposed for this. Each one relies on different principles to achieve the effect. Broadly, the two methods are:

  • Static diffusers : The diffuser doesn't move and the voxels are illuminated by using the bulk properties of the medium. e.g. Laser-induced Damage Glass, Crossed-Beam Displays etc.
  • Swept diffusers : The diffuser moves sweeping through the voxels periodically. e.g. Perspecta, LightField, Vortex Mk II etc.

What about holograms?
Holograms can produce 3D images. However dynamic interferograms are not commonly known to exist. Thus holographic devices are not seen as dynamic display devices like VoDs. 

Why VoDs?
VoDs, while in the nascent stage of development, offer the following advantages:

  • VoDs are Autostereoscopic: They don't require shutter glasses or any other visual aid to visualize 3D.
  • VoDs are 360° Multiview capable: They can be viewed from any direction unlike flat screen displays which can only be seen within a narrow viewing angle.
  • VoDs are Multiuser capable: Can support multiple users positioned around the display.
  • VoDs don't cause asthenopia: With devices that simulate depth, the perceived depth of the object is different from the actual distance of the display from the eye. This causes the human eye to keep focusing between the two depths leading to fatigue or asthenopia. With VoDs the depth is real, so it doesn't cause asthenopia.


Currently we have one active VoID and are in the process of building two more devices. Each of these devices use a different principle to display 3D objects. 

Vortex Mk II
This is our active device. It is an 10,000,000 voxel isotropic, swept-volumetric display device with a refresh rate of 8 volumes/sec and an voxel angular width of 1°. It has a 1-bit monochrome (red, green or blue) colour-depth. It is equipped with a novel curved-surface FTIR-based input system enabling a self-contained multitouch input capability. A video of the system in operation is available here: Youtube Link 

Three Dimensional Volumetric Cube
This VoID uses the technology of laser-induced damaged glass to display 3D imagery. It is a static diffuser based implementation. It uses a glass cuboid which has an array of sub-surface points laser-etched into it. A three-dimensional image is created within the block by selectively addressing the sub-surface points (voxels). We are currently exploring the mobility aspect of such a device and plan to investigate how users interact with the VoID. The display element is similar to the work of Shree K. Nayar and Vijay N. Anand in their paper 3D Display Using Passive Optical Scatterers.



  • 2011-May. VORTEX: Design and Implementation of an Interactive Volumetric Display. Abhijit Karnik, Archie Henderson, Andrew Dean, Howard Pang, Thomas Campbell, Satoshi Sakurai, Guido Herrmann, Shahram Izadi, Yoshifumi Kitamura, Sriram Subramanian. In Proceedings of the 29th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, New York, NY, USA. 6 pages. (View) (Cite)


  • VORTEX: Design and Implementation of an Interactive Volumetric Display in CHI 2011 WIP. (View)
  • Vortex : Volumetric Three-Dimensional Explorer in Microsoft Summer School 2010, Cambridge, UK. (View)