FELIX is described which represents a physical volume three-dimensional display. A modulated colored laser beam is directed via mirrors and a computer controlled x-y scanning unit towards a transparent enclosure containing a helical shaped projection screen. To describe a physical space this screen is rotated about its vertical axis so that it occupies a cylindrical volume over time. Due to the translucent property of the screen the hitting laser beam will be scattered and visible to the observer. The position of each voxel (volume pixel) is determined by the momentary location of the laser beams intersection with the rotating helix, thus providing a volumetric display medium through which scanned laser pulses are projected. The receptors in the human eye have a temporal persistence because of a mental processing delay, and this causes the eyes to fuse the light scattered from the moving two-dimensional element into a three-dimensional image. Since the images are generated within a given display space rather than on a stationary surface, they are intrinsically 3D and may be observed directly from any position. The introduced image generation technique ensures that human factors regarding depth sensation are satisfied automatically without the need for special viewing glasses to be worn by the observer. A true 3D volume display as described will complement the broad range of 3D visualization tools such as volume-rendering packages, stereoscopic and virtual reality techniques which have become widely available in recent years. Potential applications for this development range from air traffic control to various medical uses (e. g. Magnetic Resonance Imaging), entertainment and education visualization as well as imaging in the field of engineering, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Rapid Prototyping.
Keywords: 3D display, volumetric display, autostereoscopic display, laser projection display, three-dimensional imaging, spatial visualization, voxel, air traffic control, man-machine-interface