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Thread: Entertainment with Lasers

  1. #1

    Default Entertainment with Lasers

    A question in another thread about what to do with a 43mW he-ne (and one answer offered: holography), got me thinking again about the entertainment applications for lasers. This forum is obviously focused on the theatrical, either as the main event or as part of general stagecraft. Laser beams + graphics = entertainment. I wonder what the subdivisions are however. You all know more about this than I.

    Then there's holography. Put into this category I suppose in the late '60s when pictorial holography made a splash, and holograms were illuminated by lasers for viewing. Laser light + hologram = entertainment. But in the mid-'70s, recording material technology allowed the production of holograms that could be viewed with incoherent white light sources and the lasers were relegated to invisible technology being used in their production. I think at that point, holography ceased being an "entertainment" application of lasers and became just another industrial one (where the industry just happened to involve pictures). Same with lasers used in graphics scanners, laser printers, CD manufacturing, and now laser TVs and video projectors. But I'll come back to this.

    Since the mid-'80s, we've had laser pointers. This is a product category that was envisioned in the mid-'60s, and was improvised with small lab lasers for about a decade until they were made with shutter buttons on the side. Things changed though, with the introduction of diode lasers that made them cheap enough for the masses in the early '90s. Laser spot + cat = entertainment. Those were dim red lasers, real "laser pointers" at around 5mW. But as DPSS lasers got cheaper in the late '90s and the output powers increased to hundreds of milliWatts, I think a new category was formed.

    Handheld lasers. Those "green laser pointer guys" that have been getting all the press in for the past decade or so. Laser beam + target = entertainment. These lasers provide cheap access to really visible beams to play with. Targets include balloons, dry leaves and electrical tape, aquarium pests, and flying things (unfortunately, sometimes aircraft).

    Are there others? I propose that holography can make a come-back. Laser illuminated holograms are the best! Amazing depth is possible. It's a "window with a memory". Laser light is cheap enough now to be used for general illumination. It's a light bulb. Processing silver-halide materials is as easy as developing a B&W negative. But the real joy (for me at least) is the playing with laser beams and laser light on an optical table. Layout design, alignment, controlling stray light, playing with crystals and other optics to modify the beams, devices to reshape beams, mirrors, prisms, lenses, tilters, translators, ..... Laser beams + "optical lego" = entertainment. For me, the hologram that results is just icing on the cake. Evidence that everything was done right, or what needs to be fixed. I'd imagine it's very much the same as the joy of building light show projectors.

    Anyway, I look forward to a future where children (of appropriate age) are encouraged to play with lasers and light in general. In many cases, it leads to a career. Certainly did for me. One full of entertainment!

  2. #2

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    I just thought of another one: Laser Tag. This came on the scene with diode laser pointers. Laser + gun = entertainment. Still drawing a crowd for like 25 years (and mostly the very young), I have to wonder about its influence on laser play. I think it militarizes and "dangerizes" it, and may be detrimental.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eidetic View Post
    I just thought of another one: Laser Tag. This came on the scene with diode laser pointers.
    Interesting side note:

    The original two-handed Q-Zar laser tag guns used HeNe tubes, not diode lasers. That's one reason why they broke so often. (Kinda hard to keep a HeNe tube happy when people are slamming the gun around a lot.) They had red and green HeNe tubes.

    I played wayyy too much Q-zar back in the late 80's and early 90's.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffo View Post

    I played wayyy too much Q-zar back in the late 80's and early 90's.

    Adam
    Got any amazing throwback pics?

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    Sorry - no. Didn't have a digital camera back then (they didn't exist unless you had Bill Gates' money) and I never had the urge to bring my SLR into the arena.

    I still have my "I'd rather be playing Q-Zar" bumper sticker though. Never did actually stick it on the car...

    Adam

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    Great post Bob , and an interesting question raised. I too love holography, just wish I had more time to indulge myself. I think you've pretty much got most things covered though as i'm struggling to think of any other purposeful applications for lasers offhand. Well, applications that can be deemed for 'entertainment' anyway.

    Have we covered Lumia...
    Quote: "There is a theory which states that if ever, for any reason, anyone discovers what exactly the Universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another that states that this has already happened.... Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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    recently saw a "TOY" security system game , using lasers n mirrors if you break beam you lose the game :-) , i presume

    spynet laser

    http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Net-Laser-.../dp/B004S53F4Q
    In the beginning there was none. Then came the light - #1 UKLEM - 2007
    BUY UK LEGAL LASER POINTER :: NEW - Blue 460nm Laser Pointers

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lasermad View Post
    recently saw a "TOY" security system game , using lasers n mirrors if you break beam you lose the game :-) , i presume

    spynet laser

    http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Net-Laser-.../dp/B004S53F4Q

    That's a new one! Laser + toys = entertainment? This is a step in the proper direction I think. Better than laser guns because it directly involves the manipulation of the beam, and the use of optical components. Lincoln Logs. Erector sets. Look through the Thorlabs catalog. It's exactly the same thing.

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    There's also the "Mission Impossible"-style laser mazes. There were a LOT of them at the IAAPA trade show two years ago, fewer this year. Had a chance to try a few and they're pretty fun! I didn't get a chance to REALLY check out the laser hardware on any of the ones I tried, but for the most part it LOOKED LIKE =<5mW diode everywhere w/ some good haze.

    Here are a few manufacturers of such attractions:
    http://www.funovation.com/products/l...challenge.html
    http://www.odyseamirrormaze.com/laser-maze.html
    http://www.lazerfrenzy.com

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
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    Another recently expanding use for lasers is for CNC laser etching and cutting. This is now affordable for non-professionals .

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