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Holographic Terminal

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And when the power fails, the whole thing goes dark.

Similar to the Viewer-Friendly Interface, yet very much an Unusual User Interface, the Holographic Terminal is just that, a combination keyboard and screen made of transparent Hard Light that can be used to control computers, machines, or access other Phlebotinum derived devices and abilities. It's somehow solid enough to stop your hand going through it (but presumably not so much to stop a gunshot or sword, but at least it won't explode in your face) and can tell what you're pushing much like a regular touch screen. Whatever it displays is usually visible from "behind" as well (so be sure not to read personal mail in public).

Normally it might appear near an emitter of some kind, maybe even inside actual pieces of transparent plastic or in the empty space between metallic frames. However they're increasingly turning into the SFX equivalent of Internet pop ups: Appearing without the need for an emitter or any kind of prompting by The Smart Guy who'll use it. For much the same reason they're more common in VR environments and themed worlds. Commonly seen as part of Augmented Reality interfaces.

If the situation calls for tension and drama, expect them to appear in a semi circle around a character displaying various important looking bars and graphs, the techie in question will usually spout some Techno Babble while randomly typing and "flipping switches" on different terminals. Basically the futuristic, floating, glowy equivalent of an officious clipboard and pen.

If they look especially complex, it evokes a sci-fi version of Instant Runes, and is usually included as a CG effect added in later. For extra oomph, it can be paired with Matrix Raining Code either in the terminal or around the character. To make it seem even more aesthetically pleasing, may take the form of a Design Student's Orgasm. It is apparently never an issue where things like bright lights and complex objects behind the hologram make them hard to read, or that somebody sees what you're viewing from behind the hologram.

Compare The Big Board. Contrast with Zeerust, Steampunk, Our Graphics Will Suck in the Future, and Used Future. See also: Hard Light, Hologram, and Transparent Tech. See also Hologram Projection Imperfection.

It doesn't yet float, but the transparent screen part could be Truth in Television in the near future. See here. Also, Augmented Reality goggles like Google Glass appear to the user this way.


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  • A series of Yellowbook commercials in the late '00s (such as this one) featured these.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Variation in Den-noh Coil. Here, the main characters almost constantly wear advanced Augmented Reality goggles that superimpose computer-generated imagery over the real world. Such glasses are also able to sense the user's movements, so free-floating virtual terminals are one of the most common ways to interact with the simulation system. Such displays, like everything else in the "den-noh-world", are invisible and intangible to anyone that doesn't wear den-noh-glasses. They should logically be intangible to the wearer too, since glasses don't cover your hands, yet everyone is perfectly comfortable typing on a Hard Light keyboard suspended in midair.
  • Guilty Crown, being set in 2039, has these. Usually they are flat, floating screens set up as command centers, but they also come in the more circular set-up as well. They've also been integrated into cellphones with a screen that can be switched on and off.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has these everywhere, but it becomes a lot more common by season 3 once the plot moves to Mid-childa. It seems most mages can have them pop up wherever they need them.
    • It should be noted that this includes invisible floating keyboards.
  • Practically abused to its logical extreme in Macross series from Macross Frontier onward: cellphones, toys, advertisements, and even scanning devices all have projected holographic displays that move around outside the physical boundary of the device emitting them. Military equipment tends to be on the more "serious" and physical side, while commercial electronics indulge in all sorts of holographic fancy. A particularly notable example is a cellphone-to-cellphone file transfer system that consists of actually tossing a small holographic file from one phone to another, which the show's creators came up with years before people in real life started designing smartphones that could share files just by being lightly tapped against each other.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico used these everywhere. Everywhere. It also had a lot of fun with the trope by, for example, distorting the video screens in 3-D for comedic effect when the on-screen character was yelling — and that's just scratching the surface of the many-and-varied hologram gags the series worked in. In the movie, there's a scene where a problem with a space station computer causes flocks of holographic video screens to chase the occupants of the station around. They don't seem to realize that the projections are insubstantial and harmless...
    • Kiddy Grade utilises "nanomist monitors" in a similar fashion, which shouldn't be surprising given Keiji Gotoh was character designer and animator on the one before moving on the become director of the other.
  • The computers of the Ptolemaios (both I and II) in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 take this to a whole new level, as the holographic terminals can appear anywhere on the ship. As a less extreme example, the terminals utilised by the rest of the world are pretty much like this too, except they only can be generated at specific locations near hardware of some sort.
  • Moretsu Pirates has these, and they seem to interact with regular terminals in interesting ways. For example, in the first episode Marika takes a handheld, flips through a series of fasion images, flicks one which turns it into a hologram, then sends the hologram flying over to a larger monitor where a video of the person wearing the outfit plays. The characters also receive email as a holographic envelope which they have to physically open.
  • The facilities in Neon Genesis Evangelion had this, to a limited extent. And boy did they like to announce countdowns of doom.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: Lain's Cyberpunk computer has this, after she has upgraded it considerably.
  • Washu in Tenchi Muyo! loved using these in everyday life, such as making custom baby-food.
  • Wolf's Rain had controls like this, used at least in the first episode to release an artificial being from her lab tank.
  • The new Duel Disk system that Seto Kaiba develops in Yugi Oh The Dark Side Of Dimensions appears to function this way, using holographic cards and images projected from the user’s brain.
  • A lampshade hanging in Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i: James asks Dolores (the robot's AI) for "full control" of the orbital frame, saying he doesn't need her help to pilot it. Dolores complies and floods the cockpit with Holographic Terminals of every onboard system. Overwhelmed, he agrees to let her help with micromanaging the systems while he does the piloting and they share strategic thinking.

    Comic Books 
  • In later issues of the pre-Flashpoint Birds of Prey, Oracle had a holographic terminal.
  • Salaak, the Green Lantern Mission Control, does his job using a semicircle of terminals he creates with his ring. This is convenient, as his workstation is wherever he happens to be.
  • Oracle gets another holographic terminal in the Elseworlds tale Gothamazon.
  • All over the place in Starstruck, which got in on the act early, seeing as it came out in comics form in the early '80's.
  • In the first issue of Superman Unchained, Lois Lane controls the Daily Planet layout with a holographic terminal.
  • Transmetropolitan had this — sort of. One of the wide, wide variety of genetic enhancements people had was the "phone trait", which was essentially an implanted cell phone. To dial a number, you just imagined punching numbers on a keypad under your right hand. The keypad is visible to you, but not to anyone else, since it's just inside your head, technically.
    • Numerous other bits of technology seem to play this more straight, with holographic computer bits being a common background element in The City.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Babylon 5 sequel movie Legend of the Rangers depicted a unique interface for the Cool Starship's weapons systems: the gunnery officer floated in zero-gravity inside a holographic representation of nearby space — and punched, kicked and swatted at images of the enemy to shoot them. When the ship was in a firing frenzy, she rather looked like she was having a seizure.
  • The grandfather of this trope occurs in the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) movie. Since it's a movie from the 1950's, it doesn't have hologram special effects, but Klaatu does manipulate his computer by waving at it from a distance. (Also a conceptual predecessor to Microsoft's Kinect.)
  • The BBC play The Flipside of Dominick Hide features a holographic TV set, seen at one point projecting the image of a string quartet. When the title character goes back in time to 'our' present (1980) there's a scene where he mistakes a real string quartet for a holographic image and tries to walk straight through them.
  • Iron Man:
    • In the 2008 film Iron Man, Tony Stark uses a super-cool holographic CAD interface to design the second, more advanced version of his Powered Armor. It's such a cool interface that Stark can reach into the holographic interface (where, e.g., he is designing the power gauntlets for the suit) and actually interact with his design (e.g., manipulate the fingers of the holographic gauntlet he's designing). Supposedly, Robert Downey Jr.. improvised the "reach-in-and-fiddle-with-it" interface, which the director liked so well that he had the FX team design the visuals around it.
    • In the sequel, he's using even more advanced systems to the point where basically everything is holographic and manipulable. At one point he picks up a program window, scrunches it up, and throws it into the Recycle Bin.
  • The James Bond movies with Daniel Craig have the holographic wall interfaces, or at least a very translucent touchscreen.
  • The gate-keeper operators for Zion in the second Matrix movie (the ones who clear the ship for entry in the beginning), although technically they're in their own mini-Matrix (so to speak), so it's not 'real' hologram technology. Note that these people organize who lands where in Zion as opposed to just being door-openers, something that might be easier to organize inside a construct — besides, they're sure as hell not going to let a program do it.
  • The displays in Minority Report, although they're technically not floating so much as projected inside glass panels. This is actually not a difficult thing to do. The whole Minority Report computer setup could probably be created at home for a few hundred bucks — whether it would be comfortable to use is another matter. Microsoft would like you to know that it has one, Kinect. It looks a bit like the Babylon 5 ship below.
  • In Paycheck, the protagonist is a reverse engineer. He buys a new hologram-projecting TV, plugs it into his lab computer. The TV's specs then appear on the transparent wall behind him, revealing that it is a transparent screen like in Minority Report. He then manipulates the specs with hand gestures. Pretty much a 2-D version of Stark's gear. Rule of Cool certainly applies, as well as Viewer-Friendly Interface, but it doesn't look implausible for the most part — except the standing-there-waving-your-arms-around-for-hours-on-end part. And when he finishes that project he decides to ditch the screen for the holo-TV, so it's just a floating projection.
  • The holograph star-map in Wing Commander — which, come to think of it, would be very practical for a 3D display.

  • The 3rd World Products series uses "fields" for pretty much everything.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space novels, from The Ringworld Throne onward, all computer terminals are one of these.
  • The RCN series uses holographic displays and keyboards. The argument is that "the volume within a warship was too short to dedicate any of it to uses that could be accomplished by holograms." Daniel realizes he's a bit disturbed on an instinctive level when he meets an RCN civilian official who types on a physical keyboard.
  • The Conjoiners in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series can see holographic displays, except that they're created in their mind by their cybernetic implants. One character discovers this after being assimilated and finding out why some people were waving their hands in the air and staring at things that were not there.

    Live Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • FitzSimmons's holotable on the Bus in early seasons. There is one funny scene where Coulson and Ward are looking at something on it, and have no idea how to do all the cool "moving holograms around" stuff Jemma and Leo do, or even how to close a window once they've finished with it.
    • When Lady Sif comes to Earth, Coulson expects her to have trouble with it, but she quickly proves more adept at the interface than Coulson himself. As she's one of the most adventurous Asgardians, she's spent a lot of time in tech civilizations. She even calls it more primitive than what she's used to.
    • Coulson inherits Nick Fury's "toolbox," which is a holographic computer. When it's active, Coulson is surrounded by holographic projections of files and data, which he manipulates through gestures. Apparently Coulson received some training in holography as he was completely inept with the holographic display on the Bus earlier in the series.
  • A "pane glass" version was frequently used in the Too Good to Last Almost Human. Karl Urban's character used one to try to reconstruct his memory by throwing virtual post-it notes at the screen. In one episode, he waves them all away, presumably deleting them.
  • BBC Space Opera Blake's 7, which first aired in 1978, had a very early example in the viewscreen of the Liberator. Budget prohibited anything more elaborate, presumably.
  • Early seasons of Bones had Angela's reconstructions performed on a holographic display before that was replaced with giant glass monitors.
  • The short-lived series The Cape featured such a device employed by vigilante/blogger Oracle (Summer Glau).
  • Caprica has holographic terminals in spades. Their absence in chronologically later Battlestar Galactica series is likely due to the technology backlash that resulted from the First Cylon War.
  • In Continuum; holographic displays are pervasive in the future of 2077, with interfaces ranging from things like real laser-projected keyboards to handwaving to controlling the computer with your mind.
  • Used in CSI: Miami. It's also a Omniscient Database, and they don't even have the 20 Minutes into the Future handwave to fall back on, as on-screen dates show episodes usually occurring on the week of their transmission. To be fair, the tech they use is loosely based on experimental products, and could arguably be considered visual shorthand.
    • Take a closer look at the background; it's a black room with yellow stripes making a grid on the wall. Shout-Out anyone?
  • The laser keyboard in the Real Life section below popped up in one episode, being used by a secretary who wanted to stealth-blog about her employers. She had it connected to a PDA, and just turned it off when it wasn't in use or when someone came by.
  • The Doctor Who serial The Caves of Androzani featured one of these. The hologram in question wasn't CGI, however, but pre-filmed footage. Director Graeme Harper used this limitation to an interesting advantage by having one of the characters get up and walk around the hologram, the effect being added in later.
  • One of the most breathtakingly cool displays of the Holographic Terminal is the piloting interface for the Companion's ships and Shuttles in Earth: Final Conflict. A series of gestures replaces the complex switch flipping of modern fighter craft cockpits, and gives the pilot complete control over every aspect of the ship.
    • It's specifically mentioned in the pilot that, while the technology is distinctly Taelon, the actual interface and the gestures were designed by a human pilot. Despite this, when Taelons have to operate their shuttles themselves, they have no trouble doing it.
  • Eureka uses this technology, actually reaching out and grabbing the windows and moving them. Actually reaching out and grabbing on and crumbling it up before tossing it into the real trashcan.
  • Inverted by Natasha on Other Space: she is displayed solely within computer monitors but pokes invisible buttons when performing tasks.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, a lot of Ancients technology (including the Puddle Jumpers) use this. They still have hand controls but a lot of the mapping and directional functions are part of a holo-screen that pops up for the user.
    • It should be noted that the Puddle Jumpers also respond to telepathic commands — as long as you have the Ancient gene.
    • Stargate Universe shows that even the uber-old Destiny has holographics without any kind of visible emitters.
  • Notably avoided on post-Original Series Star Trek. On a few occasions, the production staff have tried using holographic free-floating main viewers, but they don't last. The reason: the main viewer is one of the franchise's most common visual elements, and it just felt wrong to replace it with a blank wall. The view screens in the post-TNG era do project in 3-D, however. Whenever a two-way communication is up on the viewer, and the shot angle changes, the view of the other party changes, too. The control panels used in the post-TNG era are actually advanced touch-screens.
    • The Arch used to adjust the holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation (later series had them just removing a camouflaged panel and fiddling with the controls physically, though the arch was just revealing the hidden area just inside the holodeck door).
    • Holographic viewers did appear in a few early Next Generation episodes (such as "The Last Outpost") but rarely show up both because of the cost of the effects and the reasons mentioned above.
    • On the other hand, Star Trek: Discovery has lots of these.
    • On Star Trek: Picard, Rios controls his ship with a holographic helm. When Picard has to take the helm, he has difficulty piloting the ship as it's nothing like the technology he was familiar with.
  • The Visitors in V (2009) use interfaces that can be made to appear and disappear with a wave of a hand.

    Tabletop Games 
  • These are present in BattleTech, but only used for large projections, like showing a battlefield in realtime inside a command base or showing a 3D map of the local solar system inside the bridge of a dropship. Battlemechs make use of computer screens, a little bit of Augmented Reality in the desplay screen of the neurohelmets pilots wear, and the controls are all physical buttons and joysticks.
  • In Eclipse Phase most computer interfaces take this form, by virtue of almost everyone having Augmented Reality access via brain implants. (Holographic projectors also exist, but they cannot be solid.) Many devices have fallback hardware controls. The ubiquity of AR can backfire: 'mist' is the term for inundating quantities of AR popups and advertisements. Whatever device you use to access AR channels is also vulnerable to hacking, allowing an attacker to cut you off from information... or inject AR illusions of their own.
  • Used near-ubiquitously by the Imperium in Warhammer 40,000 for managing both naval and on-surface operations. They seem to require some sort of "wands" to manipulate objects within them, although there seem to be either touchscreens or keyboards to back them up. Given how run-down all things Imperial are, they're not exactly of the best quality and require Percussive Maintenance from time to time. The Tau's, by contrast, don't require anything of the sort, and cause considerable discomfort for Ad Mech officials (who view technology as a religion) who don't see how it can work without exposed wiring and angular surfaces everywhere.
  • As in Eclipse Phase, Transhuman Space creates this effect via ubiquitous AR via Virtual Interface Implants.

    Video Games 
  • While it was controlled by a pretty much normal keyboard and mouse, the opening sequence of the legendary action platformer game Another World (Out of This World in some countries) featured a computer whose monitor consisted of a volumetric display, and had cubic windows floating in its confines.
  • Borderlands features this in spades, as vending machines, entry gates, and even the pause menus and inventory screens are represented as floating holograms. If you look closely, you can see the inventory/pause screens moving around a bit, and this is explained by the storage deck the Claptrap gives you at the very start, which then "boots up," showing you your health, ammo, and other HUD paraphernalia.
  • Characters in Cosmic Star Heroine make use of their shields' programs by tapping on holographic pop-ups.
  • Every single item in Dead Space; RIGs, suits even the weapons and power tools have a holographic display which says how much ammo they have left. The projections are not exactly solid, though, since you can move through them at any time. There's also a marked lack of actual, physical screens, buttons and switches in the setting; anytime the power goes out, it's likely the whole interface just disappears (as seen on the Ishimura bridge in Dead Space: Downfall).
    • Attention should be drawn to the rather notable diegetic menus. Barring the game's pause menu, everything else is projected as a real holographic control for Isaac to interact with in the game world. As such, you don't get to pause to check your inventory mid-combat, or the like.
    • Apparently this holographic exuberance is a hallmark of the EarthGov era. Dead Space 3 fluff indicates that prior to the Secession War, Sovereign Colonies technologies used more practical, down-to-Earth transparent touchscreens... which one flipped through like the pages of a book.
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, whenever the player goes into the pause menu, it's represented in-game by their Time Patroller activating one of these.
  • Elite Dangerous prominently features holographic terminals strewn around the ship's cockpit, the most important of which only appear when looking off to the left, right or bottom, and which are also context-sensitive enough to alter one's controls to manipulate the menus instead of firing weapons with the same buttons when active. While the pilot isn't visibly shown touching them to interact with their contents, the aforementioned point means they don't need to, fitting in with the HOTAS philosophy of flight controls where one's hands never leave the stick and throttle.
  • Fairune 2 has this appear in the Administrator's Tower, operated by a Black Knight and a Silver Knight.
  • In the Halo game series, Covenant and Forerunner control panels are made of light — blue and purple for the Covenant, and aquamarine and orange for the Forerunners. They usually have visible emitters. To a lesser degree, humans have also started to use these.
  • In the intentionally technobabble-gimmicked TRON level of Kingdom Hearts II they're used by Tron, particularly in his special attack.
  • In Mass Effect, an omni-tool is a glowing orange gauntlet or glove which seems to be made of Hard Light. It only appears around a character's hand when it's needed, and it seems to be solid enough to act as a keypad.
    • There's also full-fledged holographic terminals and keyboards on the Normandy, and all Prothean and geth computer interfaces use holographic keyboards.
    • Explained in the sequel. Apparently users wear haptic feedback gloves when interacting with holographic displays which both detect the coordinates of the users digits in relation to the holograms and provide resistance for buttons and such. Of course, these are difficult to clean and maintain, so heavy users get the feedback sensors implanted under their skin.
      • There are some holographic interfaces that don't work with haptic interfaces, however — see, for example, door "locks". At one point in Mass Effect 2, Shepard hits one with their elbow to open a door, indicating that some are just plain holograms. Evidently they work by detecting a disruption in the light.
    • Upgraded with the forcefield-based Omni-Blade in Mass Effect 3, which you can stab people with all cool style.
    • A developer interview reveals that they've based all of this on the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within that they constantly look back at for reference.
    • Pretty much the only computers without holographic interfaces are datapads, which actually have a physical keyboard. (Until the third game, when they don't.)
  • A few of these show up in Metroid Prime; for the most part, Samus activates them with her suit's scanner instead of trying to touch them.
  • Myst features this with the various holographic imagers in the series, sometimes mixed with Huge Holographic Head. Most of them are just read-only projectors with the image suspended inches from the source; but Uru: Ages Beyond Myst plays it straighter, especially with your KI, a disc the size of your hand that can project a full interactive screen in midair.
  • Sombra of Overwatch seems to have hologram projectors built in with the rest of her Cyborg enhancements, as her hacking involves tossing around and manipulating flat holographic screens.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has Athena's Widget, a necklace computer that projects a holographic terminal that the player will use in the Mood Matrix sections of the game. Athena wears a special glove that allows her to physically interact with the hologram.
  • The Turraken laboratory scanner in Startopia has a holographic display with Matrix Raining Code when something is being analyzed.
  • In Syndicate and Syndicate Wars, you are depicted controlling your agents from holographic displays aboard an airship.
  • Tales of Vesperia has these from time to time when Rita needs to hack into or otherwise control a blastia.
  • Practically all of the interfaces in Xenosaga are holographic, including those on PDAs — they pop out of the PDA on demand and magically accept physical interaction.

    Visual Novels 
  • Sable's Grimoire has a magical version of this trope with the Terminal spell, which projects a holographic computer terminal from the user's palm. It can be used to check email, make videocalls, consult course materials, and more. Amadronia Academy also has physical Terminal projectors available for students who haven't learned how to cast the Terminal spell yet.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The computers in Remnant have holographic interfaces. The desks in the offices of both Professors Ozpin and Lionheart can generate screens and keyboards for both computer use and monitoring the city; people can interface their scrolls with computers (including the aforementioned headmasters' desks) to create holographic interfaces for, especially for strategy planning; video games are played through holographic interfaces and the Atlesian Paladins are controlled via holographic projections of both screen and keyboard.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force Master Shake agrees to something or internet and the entire house gets flooded with holographic displays of internet advertising from the WWWYZZERDD. To the point where they can no longer function due to the enormous amounts of ads floating constantly over their heads.
  • In Chaotic, before a match (and after every battle) begins, players assemble their battle teams via a holographic console. Logical considering Chaotic is a VR simulation. Interestingly, it averts the two way translucency by not letting opponents see each other's card selections. From one side, you get creatures, mugics, and locations, but from the other it looks like a floating plexiglass pane.
  • Code Lyoko has them in Lyoko; however, besides the huge holographic map in the lab, the physical world only has physical consoles.
  • Kiva installed a few in the back seat of the Megas XLR to help Coop by monitoring its systems, perhaps as a pun on "backseat driving"? In the pilot episode, Kiva used the same technology to pilot her own robot. She gets bonus points for actually taking advantage of their nature and moving them around as needed, rather than treating the controls as a solid construct.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy showcases something that fits the basic letter of this trope (keyboards and screens made of Hard Light) while looking nothing like the usual floating screens — the USS Protostar's bridge can have holoconsole layouts loaded, which overlays holographic recreations of whatever the layout is based on and can be set to have the inputs translated to the Protostar's helm. When this is shown off, the holoconsoles in question look, act and sound like the consoles of a mid-23rd century Constitution class starship (in other words, the Enterprise's TOS consoles).

    Real Life 
  • Real-world semi-example: A laser keyboard has been developed that will work on any surface. Emphasis on surface.
  • There are demonstration technologies to produce the actual floating in the air holographic displays. The difficulty is in the display: the actual interactivity (sensing the hands position and moving the graphics accordingly) is a solved problem, as such systems already exist in the form of infrared sensors.
    • And even the displays seem to be a matter of time: prototypes and actual products that can create mid-air displays already exist. They're just not cheap or mobile enough... yet.
      • Note that of the two examples provided, only the first one seems to fulfill the "ideal" of a traditional sci-fi hologram, that is, a full-3D image projected in a volume. The second one, the Heliodisplay, is a scam, requiring a cloud of water vapour or some other denser-than-air medium on which to project a 2D image. Like a cinema without a screen, at ten times the price for one tenth of the clarity.
      • And only the second one is something you'd want to put your hands anywhere near. The first is not a hologram. That's a focused laser causing the air to turn into plasma.
    • Of course anyone who's actually tried controlling a computer by waving their hands in the air has very quickly discovered that it gets old quickly, and gets painfully tiring shortly after that. While the displays may only be a matter of time, the interface is likely Awesome, but Impractical.
  • In real life, electronics companies work very hard to reduce reflections off of TVs and monitors, so the viewer will only see the important information. Obviously, a transparent "screen" goes in utterly the opposite direction.
    • Quite the opposite in fact. If light passes through the display there would not be any reflection, therefore, the display would be readable in any lighting condition.
      • Actually, since it's transparent, all light traveling from the back would be seen through the front, making any fine detail dissolved into fuzz. It would only be reasonably view-able in either VERY low light conditions, or when displayed over a plain, black or white, surface. It would be difficult to use in most lighting conditions. Non reflective screens are only useful because the back of said screen blocks off light.
      • Compare to the clear screens they used to use on Navy warships and command centers, which were written on in grease pencil by some low-ranking guy. Mind you, the reason they were used was because the low-ranking guy could update information on the backside of the screen, thus not getting in the way of his boss trying to look at the information on the screen. The low-ranking guy had to be able to write backwards for this system to work, hence the switch to computer screens that can be updated without having to write on them directly.
  • It's no holography, of course, but LCD displays are technically transparent, there has been work on transparent OLED displays, and there's always the option to simply aim a projector at a screen made out of certain transparent materials. The coolest example is probably the Emulator, a huge touchscreen with a projector mounted on the floor, that comes with a Minority Report style DJ control software.
  • The Zvr Virtual Reality display: It requires special glasses to see the images and a stylus in order to manipulate them, though.
  • Taiwan-based Polytron Technologies has not only built transparent smartphones, but transparent USB memory sticks.

Alternative Title(s): Holographic Interface