3D TV Could Make A Comeback With Glasses-Free Technology
August 17, 2012

3D TV Could Make A Comeback With Glasses-Free Technology

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

3D television is fighting for its life, but one new development in the field may be giving it its last leg to battle on.

Researchers from Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications will be unveiling at the IFA trade show in Berlin a new 3D technology for television sets that could be a game changer.

The biggest problem with adaptation of 3D television sets on a wide scale are the glasses that come with it. Not only are the glasses expensive, but people are finding they do not want to have to wear them while watching TV and movies for hours on in.

Glasses-free 3D television is not a new concept, but those prototypes being displayed at the International Consumer Electronics Shows the last few years have been a miss more than a hit. While looking at the current models, you feel like you are stuck staring at one of those Magic Eye portraits from the 1990s.

However, we don't have to be stuck cross-eyed when trying to view 3D TVs without glasses, because science has got our backs.

The 3D movies available now on Blu-ray players are based on two different perspectives, one for each eye. The current autostereoscopic prototype displays need five to ten views of the same scene, which flash quickly before the eyes to try and not be detected, thus making you feel stuck in a Magic Eye portrait, and also tempting you to stand on one leg and tilt to find the best viewing angle.

The researchers are taking the existing Blu-ray 3D content, and creating a "depth map" with the two images, thus echoing in a new generation of 3D television viewing.

“We take the existing two images and generate a depth map — that is to say, a map that assigns a specific distance from the camera to each object,” Christian Riechert, researcher at HHI, said in a press release. “From there we compute any of several intermediate views by applying depth image-based rendering techniques. And here´s the really neat thing: The process operates on a fully automated basis, and in real time.”

By "real time," he means watching these movies will be far less of a headache, both from your brain trying to compute a bunch of images for each scene, or having to adjust your eyes to peering through 3D glasses.

The previous autostereoscopic televisions were only able to generate depth maps at a slower pace, but in a real-time conversion, its a simultaneous operation.

The team said that the viewer inserts a 3D Blu-ray disc into their player, and is able to start enjoying the movie without glasses, and without crossing their eyes. The viewer is aware of nothing, receiving the same quality of 3D glasses Blu-ray movies, without the goofy specs.

Now, as exciting as this technology may be, it doesn't mean it is something you will be able to ask Santa to have for Christmas this year. The team believes they are still a year away from the technology hitting department store shelves.

They have finished the software that converts the data, and are now collaborating with industry partners to port the technology onto a hardware product so it can be integrated into televisions.