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MIT: New Approach To Glasses-Free 3D Technology

May 4, 2011

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab announced on Wednesday that they have developed a new approach to glasses-free 3D technology.

The team said they could double the battery life of devices like Nintendo’s 3DS portable gaming system without compromising screen brightness or resolution. 

The researchers also said that their technique would expand the viewing angle of a 3D screen.

According to Doug Lanman, a postdoc in Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar’s Camera Culture Group at the Media Lab, Nintendo’s 3DS relies on an older technology known as parallax barrier.  This requires two versions of the same image, both of which are sliced into vertical segments and interleaved on a single surface.

The team’s HR3D system uses two layers of liquid-crystal displays.  The top LCD displays a pattern customized to the image beneath it.

This top layer consists of thousands of tiny slits, whose orientations follow the contours of the objects in the image.

The slits are oriented in so many different directions that the 3D illusion is consistent no matter whether the image is upright or rotated 90 degrees.

Lanman said in a statement that if a device like the 3DS used HR3D then its battery life would be longer because the parallax barrier would block less light.

The 3D image would also be consistent no matter the viewing angle.

“The great thing about Ramesh’s group is that they think of things that no one else has thought of and then demonstrate that they can actually be done,” Neil Dodgson, professor of graphics and imaging at the University of Cambridge in England, said in a statement.

“It’s quite a clever idea they’ve got here.”

However, Dodgson said that HR3D is very computationally intensive.

“If you’re saving battery power because you’ve got this extra brightness, but you’re actually using all that battery power to do the computation, then you’re not saving anything,” he says.

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