A Multi-Layered Display with Water Drops

Red-Green-Blue-Yellow Aquarium simulator

We present a multi-layered display that uses water drops as voxels. Water drops refract most incident light, making them excellent wide-angle lenses. Each 2D layer of our display can exhibit arbitrary visual content, creating a layered-depth (2.5D) display. Our system consists of a single projector-camera system and a set of linear drop generator manifolds that are tightly synchronized and controlled using a computer. Following the principles of fluid mechanics, we are able to accurately generate and control drops so that, at any time instant, no two drops occupy the same projector pixel's line-of-sight. This drop control is combined with an algorithm for space-time division of projector light rays. Our prototype system has up to four layers, with each layer consisting of an row of 50 drops that can be generated at up to 60 Hz. The effective resolution of the display is 50 x projector vertical-resolution x number of layers. We show how this water drop display can be used for text, videos, and interactive games.


"A Multi-Layered Display with Water Drops"
P. C. Barnum, S. G. Narasimhan, and T. Kanade,
ACM Transactions on Graphics (SIGGRAPH),
July 2010.
[PDF] [PPT+videos] [PPT only]

Media Coverage

"Water droplets create multilayered display"
New Scientist, July 2010 [Link to Article and video]

"A Multi-Layered Display with Water Drops (w/ Video)"
PHYS ORG, July 2010 [Link to Artical and Video]

"New 3D display technology projects multi-layered images onto water droplets"
gizmag, July 2010 [Link to Artical and Video]


(Video Result Playlist)

A technical summary video,
including a narrated introduction

[YouTube Link] [Divx avi]

A non-technical summary video

[YouTube Link] [Divx avi]


A photo and diagram of the setup

A diagram of the flow of data and synchronization signals

A diagram and photo of one of the linear manifolds of drop emitters

A summary of the drop display process, using drops being emitted at 30hz and a projector refreshing at 60hz.

High resolution images of the 2.5D-Tetris game