“Engage tractor beam!”
Though those words have been spoken by Captain Picard and Captain Kirk of the Star Trek universe, it turns out that perhaps we’re closer to making science fiction science reality.
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Sussex, together with tech company Ultrahaptics, have constructed the world’s first sonic tractor beam.
Are we getting closer to Star Trek tech like tractor beams? THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paramount/Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Are we getting closer to Star Trek tech like tractor beams?
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paramount/Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Using high-amplitude sound waves, the team created an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move objects, albeit small ones.
“We all know that sound waves can have a physical effect,” said Bruce Drinkwater, Professor of Ultrasonics in the University of Bristol’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “But here we have managed to control the sound to a degree never previously achieved.”
An array of 64 miniature loudspeakers were used to create high-pitch and high-intensity sound waves. This in turn creates a force field that keeps whatever object in place. They could even rotate the object.
There were three unique shapes that worked best: one that resembles a hand, one that looks more like an acoustic vortex (like a tornado) and the other as a cage.
Now, this isn’t the first time this has been done. However, the researchers weren’t as successful when it came to manipulating the object.
But the real question is: When are they going to invent transporters to beam us to work and avoid rush-hour traffic?