When watching this video for the first time you would be forgiven for thinking that we have finally mastered the Force. However rather than Luke Skywalker, these are scientists from the University of Tokyo, who have been able to make things levitate and move in space with the use of sound waves. With enough energy they will be able to move just about anything using this new technique.
This isn’t strictly ground breaking stuff as acoustic levitation has been around for some time. But the difference is before they were only able to move a particle over a fixed axis, going only up or down.
Yoichi Ochiai, Takayuki Hoshi and Jun Rekimoto have worked to take this concept further, developing a way of making objects move in 3D space. In a research paper they explain:
“Our manipulation system has two original features. One is the direction of the ultrasound beam, which is arbitrary because the force acting toward its centre is also utilised. The other is the manipulation principle by which a localised standing wave is generated at an arbitrary position and moved three-dimensionally by opposed and ultrasonic phased arrays. We experimentally confirmed that various materials could be manipulated by our proposed method.”
The machine creates a focal point from a 3D standing wave. Then users have to alter the wave’s properties to move whatever is caught inside that point. The technique can manipulate a wide range of materials, and it’s safe to disrupt with your hands.
So practically what are we looking at here? Well as I mentioned before, if there is enough energy then any object could potentially be lifted in the air and moved in any direction, so we could see real life Back To The Future hover boards. Exciting!
[Image via Yoichi Ochiai]