In collaboration with Akishima Laboratories (Mitsui Zosen), Professor Shigeru Naito of Osaka University has created a prototype device that draws letters and simple shapes on water! The device is composed of 50 water wave generators encircling a 30 cm deep, 1.6 m diameter cylindrical water tank. The wave generators, which are normally used to simulate ocean conditions for shipbuilding, move up and down in a calculated motion controlled by computer software. The cylindrical waves that are produced act as pixels, which are combined to form lines and shapes. The new device, called AMOEBA (for Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin) is capable of spelling out the entire Roman alphabet, as well as some simple Kanji characters.
Each formation remains on the water surface for a few seconds only, but is produced successively every 3 seconds. Similar devices developed by Akishima Laboratories in the past had difficulty producing letters with straight lines (B, F, K, etc.) and took a long 15 minutes to produce each letter. In addition to the ability to create straight lines, the AMOEBA can create a new shape or letter in as little as 15 seconds.
Although the technology is not ready for commercial use, it is expected to find applications in the advertisement industry and in amusement devices that combine acoustics, lighting and fountain technology.
Professor Shigeru Naito’s article on the AMOEBA can be found here
(PDF; part English, part Japanese).