Changing ultrasonic controls can make one layer of display more transparent than another and create a different texture on a third, allowing designers to combine layers of display like the layers of imagery in a Photoshop document.
Ultimately it creates an adaptable, inexpensive, highly customizable display that can be touched, penetrated and whose visual characteristics can be tuned to match the optimum requirements any new image and be used in ways most displays can't, according to the designers.
Using the right size and shape of frame, for example, the flexible colloids could display a lifelike image of almost anything.
They could also be used for high-impact graphical images in museums and other venues in which giant, potentially frameless displays layer new images on old ones that are still visible through the transparent surface of the new image.
"Museums could display floating planets using this technology," Oyama told New Scientist.
The Colloidal Display is still a concept, not an actual thing, but it's a concept with a lot of potential, almost unlimited capacity for tuning and customization and a much higher cool quotient than whatever flat-panel thing Apple is shipping these days.
Displays made out of solids instead of fluids are so passé.
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Yoichi Ochiai/Univ. of Tokyo