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Microsoft's glasses-free 3D display technology

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June 17, 2010

Thanks to a Microsoft research, oversized 3-D glasses could soon become a thing of the pas...

Thanks to a Microsoft research, oversized 3-D glasses could soon become a thing of the past.

The popularity of 3-D cinema is skyrocketing and 3-D-capable TV sets are heading for our living rooms, but almost every 3-D ready technology still requires that you don a set of special glasses. Microsoft has developed lens which could help change all that. With the ability to keep track of the position of viewers and send separate images directly to each eye, the new prototype display eliminates the need for 3-D glasses.

Many tech companies are surfing the 3-D trend and researching better ways to deliver stereoscopic imagery without the need for users to wear glasses. Sharp, for instance, has been researching the field since 2002 and Nintendo (with the new 3DS) and Fujifilm (with its Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1 display) have entered the realm of glasses-free 3D.

However innovative, one limitation of Sharp's (and other companies') approach is that the user needs to stand in a precise spot with respect to the screen in order to experience stereoscopic vision. Microsoft's Applied Research Group, however, goes a step further: the system uses a camera to track each viewer's movements and then sends the light in the appropriate direction, directly to their eyes, even allowing two separate users to experience 3-D vision simultaneously.

The key to Microsoft's experimental system is a peculiar lens that projects the light toward a viewer by switching on and off light-emitting diodes placed along its bottom edge. Thanks to an optical trick, light enters through the bottom edge of the lens and then refracts within the lens itself to reach the desired angle, after which it's finally sent to the viewer. This method also means that unlike traditional projectors, the structure — including the lens itself — is thin and could be embedded into a standard LCD display without too much hassle.

The number of viewers that the system can track simultaneously is limited by the screen's refresh rate: so, while a standard 240Hz LCD can keep track of two users (four 60Hz channels, one for each eye) a faster refresh rate would allow for even more users to share the same 3-D experience at the same time. Another limitation is the small viewing angle — currently at just 20 degrees, although the researchers hope to increase this figure to 40 degrees by tweaking the design of the lens.

Microsoft is also looking at other possible uses for the 3-D lens. Once integrated into a laptop, one application could be to allow only one user at a time to view the monitor, blocking off prying eyes and ensuring privacy in public places. The user would then be able to switch back to a standard "public view mode" in which light is scattered in all directions in order to share the display with more people.

Via Technology Review.

About the Author
Dario Borghino Dario studied software engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin. When he isn't writing for Gizmag he is usually traveling the world on a whim, working on an AI-guided automated trading system, or chasing his dream to become the next European thumbwrestling champion.   All articles by Dario Borghino
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5 Comments

Stop slouching Barac!

Craig Jennings
18th June, 2010 @ 04:58 pm PDT

Why are most of the people hanging on to their glasses?

There are a number of problems with 3D. There are too many different methods for viewing( remember Beta vs VHS?) This could be worse. At the moment, the 3D TVs are very expensive. most people have recently paid for large screen TVs, which will not convert to 3D, although I think that would just be possible if using active glasses. A small infra-red transmitter plug-in box could control the shutters.

windykites1
20th June, 2010 @ 11:10 am PDT

My idea of technology upgrading - wait till the cheapest of the current crop becomes redundant and then upgrade to the cheapst of the next gen, when it's on discount at a Cheap Skate discount shop.

And it's coming from Microsoft? Ummm with Microsofts setting the prices for everyone outside the US and A at twice the price, will it come with Microsofts crap software and DRM surveilance, and a heap of stupid functions and it';s legendary Blue Screen of Death - along with perpetual upgrades and patches; and a lack of compatability and they will only let you watch content from the Microsoft Online Shop, which is about 3 X the price of the local video store...

Sure - I will kill myself to run out and buy that.

Mr Stiffy
20th June, 2010 @ 07:16 pm PDT

"And it's coming from Microsoft? Ummm with Microsofts setting the prices for everyone outside the US and A at twice the price, will it come with Microsofts crap software and DRM surveilance, and a heap of stupid functions and it';s legendary Blue Screen of Death"

God do you people just just always have to put in your two cents. I'm sorry Mr.Stiffy did Bill Gates rape your mom or something? Because I gotta tell you none of us really care to here about it. And to be frank its really just pesky and annoying Sort of like a fly that buzzes around in the middle of a conversation. So can you do us a favor and spare us? and go back to your hive and tell the rest of your friends too.

Wilhelm Coq
16th July, 2010 @ 04:38 am PDT

I am looking for an investor for my invention, three-dimensional display. If you and/or your Corporation and/or its partners invest in my invention, you will be entitled to an amount of profit share on which we agree from any profit I obtain from manufacturing of my invention. If you and/or your Corporation and/or its partners help me find an investor for my invention, you and/or your Corporation and/or its partners will be entitled to an amount of profit share on which we agree from any profit I obtain from manufacturing of my invention. I claim that my design of a three-dimensional display achieves both depth resolution and image resolution equal to the maximum visible by a human viewer, negligible crosstalk, negligible aberrations, and proper Modulation Transfer Function. I am the inventor and the owner of all right, title, and interest in the following U.S. patent, which discloses this my invention: Mihajlovic, Zoran, Three-dimensional autostereoscopic display and method for reducing crosstalk in three-dimensional displays and in other similar electro-optical devices, U.S. Patent No. 7,839,549, filed October 20, 2006, and issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on November 23, 2010.

( More information about my invention can be found for example at the Internet address http://www.nyx.net/~zmihajlo )

zelectronic
3rd December, 2010 @ 10:54 am PST
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