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"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
- Peter Watts

Identificator  
  A hologram projector used to flash door signs.  

After you have finished this short quote, you might want to take a look at the Heliodisplay, a real-world technology that would allow a message or sign to float in the air.

The floor was resilient black and gray tesserae; the walls and ceiling were plastered white, devoid of decoration or relief except for the doors and identificators - these in various muted tones of maroon, mauve, dark green, indigo.

Three doors doors along the corridor Gersen came upon a free-floating identificator of luminous blue letters, which read: GYLE WARWEAVE, and below: PROVOST....

He stepped forward; the door slipped aside, quick as a camera shutter; the identificator broke into individual letters which scattered like frightened fish, to regroup after he had passed.

From The Star King, by Jack Vance.
Published by Berkeley in 1964
Additional resources -

I saw the Heliodisplay at NextFest 2005 in Chicago; if you put your fingers in the flow, you can make the picture or words "scatter like fish," very much the way Vance describes the Identificator. Different technology, similar effect.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for suggesting this item (and providing a quote!).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Star King
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Star King
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

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