Developments to Watch
A BRIGHT IDEA FOR WRITING MESSAGES ON THE NIGHT SKY
Ever write in the air at night with sparklers? The fiery light burns a temporary image into your retina. Yokohama-based Avix Inc. has used the same effect to make a baton for police that etches nighttime warnings in thin air. The battery-powered device fools your eyes with 32 light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The baton is held vertically and swept from side to side. It creates an image in horizontal stripes the same way a skywriting airplane does, except with flashes of light instead of smoke puffs. It could be used to write, say, "stop" in Japanese or English.
Osaka police are testing the baton, which will be marketed by Mitsubishi Corp. at $115 a pop in sets of 50. So far, each baton writes only one message, since the letters are hard-wired into the chip. Avix hopes to make one that offers a choice. It's also developing a 16-LED version for motorists and partyers.EDITED BY RUTH COXETER