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“Parity Mirror®” moves images and touch panels in the air, just like in Science Fiction (SF) moviesParity Innovations Co.,Ltd

2019.02.07

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Schematic diagram of Parity Mirror®

Points to be noted

  • Development of “Parity Mirror®”, the world's first optical element utilizing the latest nanotechnology
  • Creates floating images that can be seen with the naked eye
  • Integrated with sensors for application to touch panels in the air

Floating images appear in the air. Scenes like SF movies has now become a reality. Mr. Maekawa, president of Parity Innovations Co. Ltd., created the “Parity Mirror®” using a resin molded optical element (Having the function of bending or reflecting light like lenses, mirrors, and prisms) and made it possible to float images in the air. Also, floating images can be operated as a switch by connecting a sensor.

Mr. Maekawa, the president of Parity Innovations Co. Ltd., developed the “Parity Mirror®”, which was the first device in the world to project images in the air through the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), to which they had enrolled in 2006. Later, in 2010, the company was established as a venture company of NICT.
Currently, the company is mainly engaged in the planning, development, and design of optical components/systems for air display, and acquisition and licensing business of industrial property rights. The company is engaged in the mass production of “Parity Mirror®” and prototyping and development of systems by applying the technology.

The “Parity Mirror®” projects images of the light source placed below as a full-color, undistorted image in the position of plane symmetry like it is being reflected with a mirror. The writer spoke to Mr. Maeda, Director of the Development Department to find out about the mechanism.

Though “Parity Mirror®” appears like a thin sheet of plastic, the surface is lined up with hundreds of thousands of micromirrors that are extremely small in size (200 μm). The arrangement is characterized by a Dihedral Corner Reflector Array (DCRA) structure. Specifically, the two faces of plastic micromirrors are arranged vertically. The mechanism is based on the principle of mirror reflection and projects the images in the air by reflecting twice on the two orthogonal surfaces.

Up to now, techniques such as half mirrors and transparent screens were used to project images in the air. These technologies “Show images as if they are floating in the air”, which are not floating. The differentiator of “Parity Mirror®” is that the image is a “Real image” formed by the collection of light.

Images projected into air using “Parity Mirror®” is the same as mirror images from a normal mirror (Plane mirror) with the image formed at the symmetrical plane position, and it is not an “Imaginary image” present on the back side of the mirror, but a “Real image” that actually collects light at the front of the mirror, and it has a sense of presence and realism like real objects. This is the reason for gaining attention as the first product in the world.

Combination of images in air and touch panel

The company has also developed “AIRIA, which uses “Parity Mirror®” to display switches of lights as images in the air and enables ON/OFF operations in the air. The switches which are in the air is hygienic as it can be pressed without touching directly, these switches can be used for operating panels in medical facilities, restaurants, factories, and public areas.
For other application products, they are working on prototypes such as desk light demonstration units, digital watch which pops up with time, and AR (Augmented Reality) which is a combination of smartphone and virtual images.

As a future development, “Parity Mirror®” will be sold online as standalone units from spring 2019. Users will be able to create and process at their comfort.
The maximum size of “Parity Mirror ®” is 150 mm x 150 mm, though increasing the size is a technical challenge, the company is planning to increase the size to 200 mm x 200 mm after one year. If the size increases, it can be used to project proportionally larger images increasing the possibility of applications to fields such as advertising and entertainment. The company is looking for business partners to commercialize the products. They want to pay attention to how the images in the air will be utilized.

Interview Date: January 30, 2019

 

company information

Our company is a venture company started by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. With the mission of "Creating living space where expression of SF/Fantasy world is commonplace", we are aiming at research, development and practical application of aerial imaging technology.

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