It's a well-known fact that we here at DVICE will write about more or less anything involving lasers, even if it doesn't involve lasers. Fortunately, this display system actually does involve lasers, and it also involves invisibility. Whoa.
Getting light to bounce off of something is easy, as long as that something is a mirror.
Getting light to bounce off of something transparent is less easy to the point that we'd feel safe calling it an oxymoron. So how the heck does Sun Innovations make these invisible laser displays, then? The secret is in the transparent plastic that's used as a screen: it's not entirely transparent. In fact, it's not transparent at all at a couple very specific wavelengths, which are also the wavelengths pumped out by the laser projector aimed at it. These wavelengths are narrow enough that our eyes see right through them, but they're still wide enough to be able to reflect several colors worth of narrow band laser light.
The overall effect of this display system (called TransPlay) is that of a crazy bright animated laser picture hanging in midair. It's great for store displays and whatnot, but Sun Innovations has a more useful implementation built into a car windshield that traces your route out like a GPS. A GPS with lasers, which automatically makes it the coolest GPS we've ever seen. See it for yourself, in the gallery below.
Via Sun Innovations
Posted on location at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. All photos taken by Evan Ackerman for DVICE.