AngelatorThis is a featured page

It's easy to say that the Angelator, the imaging tool used in Bones, is a figment of the producer's imagination. After all, a cube of glowy dust that looks vaguely like one of those old oil lamps (see right) doesn't exactly scream real tech. Real tech is neither that CGI-ish nor that sexy, more often than not -- especially not real tech that's used by forensic anthropolgists.

The fact is, though, that the technology (if not that particular appearance) does exist. It's called volumetric imaging, and Bones is one of the first television shows to make a semi-realistic reference to it.


The Angelator shown on the tv show, Bones, is the latest in a line of volumetric imaging devices used to track weather, display organs, and otherwise blow people's minds. It is not the same as holographic imaging, which takes a 3-D image from a set perspective and presents it in a 3-D display (in other words, if you walk around a holographic image, you always see the same picture relative to you -- you can't see the back of a holographic image's head, for example). Volumetric imaging presents a true 3-D image that stands on its own, one you can walk around to examine from all angles, just as though it were there in real life.

Volumetric imaging isn't all that new. In 2000, Wired ran an article called "3D Projection Without the Glasses" about a volumetric display being shown at Comdex that year. The race to get a useful, free-standing volumetric display has been ongoing for some time, and we get closer every year. The applications are mind-blowing.

  • The ability to for a surgeon to "see" what they're operating on without opening up a body to get to it in person, especially when we're talking about brains, for example, or other delicate tissues.
  • The chance to observe weather systems as a whole.
  • The best video games ever.
  • Revolutionizing communications.

And all the show uses it for is to reconstruct skulls and facial features. It's not even that far fetched.

Kathy Reichs has been on record stating in a number of interviews that the technology represented in the Angelator really does exist -- granted, perhaps in not so portable a form as shown on the show, but it is in use today. Keep an eye out for it. Reconstructed skull heads could indeed be coming to a forensic anthropologist near you, sooner than you think.

Latest page update: made by Rembrandt , Jul 24 2008, 8:23 AM EDT (about this update About This Update Rembrandt Edited by Rembrandt

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