Glasses-Free 3D is The Future of Displays

March 22, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

We have 3D TVs in stores, but not many people have them in their homes. Part of that reason would be due to the uncomfortable and bulky glasses that one has to wear to view in 3D.

Having a glasses-free 3D would be the best, and that technology isn’t too far away from perfection. We already have systems that utilizes this aspect, as in the Nintendo 3DS.

While we speak about 3D, not many people really understand how this works. How are we able to view an image or video in the third dimensional aspect?


For that, each of our eye should be able to see a slightly different image from the other. Since all of our eyes are spaced at a few inches from each other, we do get different views that overlap to form one complete image.

But while viewing a television screen or any other screen, the images are the same. So to get the 3D effect, the screen should send out a different image to each eye, which is done by blocking out images that goes to one eye, something that 3D glasses are designed to do.

Else, the display angles out every other row of pixels slightly to get them to align with either the left or the right eye. This is what the Nintendo 3DS does.

But when you view the 3DS, if you tilt your head or move it otherwise, the perspective of the content doesn’t change as there is present, what is called as a ‘sweet spot’, which gives only one ‘view’ of the content. Now, research is being done at the HP labs, lead by David Fattal, that may pave way for more than one sweet spot, thus allowing the display of content over many angles.

How this can be achieved is by having each pixel of an image to be sent in different directions. By a complex method of control over the “diffraction grating”, the image sent out straight will be different from the one sent out a few degrees to the sides.

Thus, we get a display that has different images at different directions. So when a viewer gets a different perspective of the same object, then a 3D picture is obtained, that can change with their point of view.

As of now, theoretical analysis claims that 64 different angles can be shown with the current technology. Displays on smartphones, that make use of low power and wider area of viewing, would be able to make use of this 3D technology.

But we won’t be able to see it anytime soon, as incorporating it on smartphones would require a major revamping of processing power, RAM, and battery power. Moreover, it wouldn’t have the high resolution capacity that smartphones of today carry.

So, give it a rest and research for now, and in time we might get some high resolution, 3D displays on smartphones and tablets too.

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