May 19, 2014
Glasses-Free 3-D Projector From MIT
Garrett Staas for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The world of 3-D home theater has slowly expanded over the last decade with many attempts to try and bring a real world environment and feel to televisions. Although it may not be fully achieved just yet, MIT Media Lab researchers are inching closer to an experience that will allow the viewer to move into different positions throughout the room and gain a completely different perspective from the other.
The MIT researchers — research scientist Gordon Wetzstein, graduate student Matthew Hirsch, and Ramesh Raskar, the NEC Career Development Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and head of the Camera Culture group - call this new platform of viewing “Multiperspective 3-D.” Conventional 3-D video is called stereoscopic 3-D. This particular form of viewing is perfect for movie theaters because the person watching is stationary. A person that is at home on the other hand is constantly moving, changing perspectives, and active. In the real world, when a person moves and changes their perspective, the objects change in shape, light and darkness; it is exactly that depth that the researchers at MIT want to achieve, but without the glasses we need in movie theaters.
The technology the researchers are working with has actually been available for a while. Even more surprising is how easy the mechanics of this product work. The team of researchers is using a technology called liquid-crystal modulator. These modulators act like a filter of light, but unlike a filter, they can change according to the image that is being projected from the light source. When these modulators are put in series, only light from certain angles are able to pass through the next modulator. This effect allows for only specific light rays to pass through and can ultimately lead to the depth that is needed to create an image.
When designing a product, the mechanics are usually considered one of the easier aspects of design, and this case is no different. The programming for this product is amazingly complex because it has to take into account several different variables. The product needs to be able to utilize a technology that will adapt images as the light source changes. The researchers wanted to preserve any part of the image that doesn’t change and change any part of the image that changes. This pattern-like algorithm would create much better light intensity. This is a tall order though as it will need a great amount of computational power to achieve. They have not yet reached a real time picture, but they are very close. The overall goal the researchers wanted to achieve is to project an image that is optimized with the best contrast and color without making the bandwidth too demanding.
Many 3-D processors could use terabytes of data, which isn’t realistic when it comes to actual applications. The series of liquid-crystal modulators would be able to interact together and bring the terabytes of data down to gigabyte levels by compressing and eliminating redundancies within the images. This would greatly change how precise the images are and improve the chance of achieving real time viewing.
All of the features that are being applied to this technology try to create an environment that hopes to bring the viewer into the world that they are watching. The innovative ideas that are being implemented can literally change how a person views a program and takes a small step towards a viewing experience that could one day bring the viewer into the world they are watching.
Find out more about their work here.