At the time the Nov. 30th, 2015 NBC News article, “Japanese Scientists Create Touchable Holograms” was published, 3D holograms were still considered a work-in-progress. Things that haunted digital holography consisted of poor image quality, non-colorful images, sub-par viewing angles, small image size and most importantly, lack of interaction. Japanese scientists, in collaboration with Utsuromiya University Center for Optical Research and Education, had a breakthrough. They created “touchable” holograms that could be manipulated with the human hand.

The once far-fetched dream of users experiencing the virtual touch of a loved one over Skype, for example, seemed suddenly possible. The potential of “touchable” holograms seemed limited only by one’s imagination. The article goes as far as mentioning a computer keyboard made of light beaming onto a person’s lap. All great ideas and with Japan’s creation of “fairy lights,” a system that can fire high-frequency laser pulses that last one millionth of one billionth of a second, the technology was ready to go, right?

Not so fast. As with any great technological discovery, it has to be bottled up, packaged and delivered to the right end user. The Japanese researchers who created the touchable hologram also had the foresight into its ideal application. Dr. Yoichi Ochiai of Tsukuba Unversity and lead researcher said the technology was ideal for entertainment, medicine, and architecture. “The current state of light technology doesn’t allow humans to proactively interact and feel light as matter, but the “touchable” hologram has the potential to change that,” Ochiai said.

Flash forward to almost a year-to-date and iReviews 2016 feature article on RealView’s revolutionary medical holography system called, “Image Intimacy.” Dr. Ochiai’s prediction a year prior was spot on. Like a digital crystal ball, RealView, Ltd., an Israeli medical device startup created the world’s first 3D medical holography display and interface system. Their proprietary technology projects hyper-realistic 3D holographic images “floating in the air”. With the device’s high-resolution proprietary technology, a user (medical professional) can literally touch the holograms and manipulate them in real-time. As described on RealView’s website, “the interaction with the image is as intuitive as grabbing an apple or painting a statue as the image is optically real and within touching reach.”

Targeted specifically for interventional cardiology, RealView’s enhanced 3D imaging technology supports minimally invasive procedures. Since the images are digital, they can be rotated or manipulated by a Cardiologist as he or she sees fit. This provides a Cardiologist, for the first time, a “unique capability of working very intimately and accurately the 3D information.” The floating image allows the medical professional to probe, morph, reposition, adjust, etc. without the limitations of a 2D system like a laptop or x-ray machine.

One can easily see the progression of technology in just a one-year span whether it’s being tested in Japan or perfected in Israel. The Japanese researchers showed the world that it was possible and at the same time, pointed in the direction of the medical field. RealView is now in the position to set the standard in holography. With its Image Intimacy system, it can easily pass the innovative torch to others dedicated to progressing 3D hologram technology.