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Is Large-Scale Glassless 3D on the Way?
Is Large-Scale Glassless 3D on the Way?

By Barry Levine
August 24, 2012 11:19AM

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While the initial 3D tests involve projectors, the researchers have said that the technique could be used with other kinds of displays, such as TV. In one kind of display, called integral imaging, multiple micro-lenses could be placed in front of a screen that presents 2D imaging, to create 3D. The technique could also be used in the parallax barrier method.

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Could 3D become more widely accepted if glasses weren't required? A potential new breakthrough could help to find out.

A team of researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea has developed a way to present 3D without glasses. The research has been reported in the Aug. 20 online issue of the open-access journal, Optics Express.

Light Off the Screen

Currently, 3D movies in theaters and 3D TV at home require glasses, although some glasses-free 3D technologies for small screen sizes, such as those used for the Nintendo 3DS, have begun to enter the market.

3-D technology largely differs in where polarization of an image takes place. In a theater, two projectors show polarized images that are slightly offset, and glasses with counter-polarized lens then help each eye see one image at a time, slightly angled toward the perspective of that eye. The brain merges them into an illusion of depth.

The Nintendo 3DS utilizes the parallax method, where each eye sees a slightly different image. Single projection systems for theaters are possible, but they involve rear projection and a parallax barrier, which has been compared to electronic venetian blinds, that sits physically in front of the screen.

Screen Wears Glasses

The South Korean team, led by Professor Byoungho Lee of the School of Electrical Engineering, employs polarizers for the light reflecting off the screen. The polarizer uses a special screen coating called quarter-wave retarding film, and, instead of polarizing two images coming out of two projectors, it splits the single image emerging from the screen. Some polarized light will be shown, while some is blocked out, creating the illusion of depth.

In other words, the screen wears the 3D glasses, not the viewers. Because only one projector is involved, the new technology could be less expensive than the current 3D version.

While the initial tests involve projectors, the researchers have said that the technique could be used with other kinds of displays, such as TV. In one kind of display, called integral imaging, multiple micro-lenses could be placed in front of a screen that presents 2D imaging, to create 3D. The technique could also be used in the parallax barrier method.

Experiment in Germany

At any rate, the new technique will take at least several years to develop into products that show up on the market.

Another glassless 3D technology has also recently been reported, from scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications of the Heinrich-Hertz Institute in Germany. It enables the real-time, automatic processing of existing 3D Blu-ray content into autostereoscopic displays.

Such displays require five to 10 offset views of each scene, as opposed to the two views of 3D with glasses, but generating those many views has previously been a time-consuming process often involving manual tweaking. The researchers said they are now working with industry partners to create a hardware/software product that could be integrated into TV sets, which will take at least another year.

Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, said that glassless 3D could have many applications in business, such as commercial displays in retail stores or casinos, or in advertising. On the consumer side, he noted, "glasses have been one of the key issues" holding back widespread acceptance, but, even with no glasses, such technology would still have to be able to present "excellent 2D" while remaining affordable.

Tell Us What You Think



Posted: 2013-11-24 @ 4:47am PT
I know of a person who has developed glass-free 3 D technology

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