Researchers from the University of Tokyo can now be credited for creating the world's thinnest screen – from a soap bubble! Unlike regular screens that are opaque, a soap bubble is essentially transparent and a “micro-membrane” that allows the passage of light and displays colors. Yoichi Ochiai and his colleagues have developed what they call an ultra-thin and flexible Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF). To develop this, the researchers used a mix of two colloidal liquids. Ochiai's official blog reads: “There have been several researches on dynamic BRDF display in the past. However, our work is different in several ways.”
The blog informs that researchers can control the surface, texture and the reflectance of the surface by using speakers that emit ultrasonic sound waves. “The combination of the ultrasonic waves and ultra thin membranes results in more realistic, distinctive, and vivid imageries on the screen. This system contributes to open up a new path for display engineering with sharp imageries, transparency, BRDF and flexibility.” Interestingly, one can even poke the bubble allowing for interactivity.
The concept of creating the world's thinnest screen from a soap bubble is unique in its own right. If the researchers are to be believed, its scope is expansive and may well open a new chapter for flexible displays. The soap bubble display will be visible at SIGGRAPH 2012 (The 39th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) which is set to be held next month.