Engineers at University of Tokyo have created tiny lights that can levitate using ultrasonic waves. Named Luciola for its resemblance to the firefly, the particle weighs 16.2 mg, has a diameter of 3.5 mm, and glows red – bright enough to illuminate text.
“Ultimately, my hope is that such tiny objects will have smartphone capabilities and be built to float about helping us in our everyday lives in smarter ways,” Makoto Takamiya, circuit design specialist who has been working on Luciola for two years, told Reuters.
Luciola emits ultrasonic waves that make it float through 285 microspeakers, and they all operate at a frequency inaudible to the human ear, allowing Luciola to levitate in total silence. In the future, the developers aspire to equip Luciola with movement or temperature sensors, which would allow the lights to deliver a message, make moving displays, detect the presence of humans and even participate in projection mapping.
Takamiya hopes to make Luciola available in the market in the next five to 10 years.