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On Our Way to Glasses-Free 3D


HP_logo_3D_small.jpgContributed by David Fattal and Ray Beausoleil, HP Labs


During the summer of 2011, after years of working on the problems of optical interconnect and coupling light in and out of photonics chips, it occurred to our team that similar technology could be used to create a controlled lightfield. A few weeks later we had our first prototype, a floating letter “X” over a letter “O”: we had created a 3D image that we could experience without wearing the dorky red and blue glasses. We knew we were on to something. (In fact, you might have read about the project on this blog, back in June 2012: Glasses-free 3D display - a new invention from HP Labs)


In research released today in Nature Magazine, we’re excited to introduce a multi-directional diffractive backlight technology allowing the rendering of high resolution, full parallax 3D images in a zone up to 180° and up to one meter away.


In other words: glasses-free 3D for your mobile device.


Until now, existing commercial 3D solutions have been geared toward large viewing distances and narrow viewing zones, as opposed to the short-range viewing of mobile devices. A mobile screen requires high pixel densities due to the short viewing distance, and a wide view angle in order to accommodate large head movements or tilts. Given consumers’ increased reliance on mobile devices for content consumption, our research goals around 3D display technology have targeted mobile applications from the very beginning, looking to develop a mobile 3D display technology that is power efficient and offers a good image quality at a close distance.


backlight_surface_SEM.jpgOur display technology forms 3D images by projecting different 2D images into different regions of space. A viewer located near the display will see a different image from his right and left eye, resulting in a 3D effect without the need for special glasses or eye tracking. As the viewer moves around (or tilts) the display, he or she will perceive a succession of different image stereo pairs, creating the illusion of continuous motion parallax.


The key to our design is a LED-based guided-wave illumination technique that produces wide-angle multi-view images in color from a thin planar transparent lightguide. Pixels associated with different views or colors are spatially multiplexed and can be independently addressed and modulated at video rate using an external shutter plane.


Leia_team_small.jpgWe’re excited about where this technology can take us in the not-so-distant future. Beyond the obvious realms of gaming and entertainment for consumers, we see a number of important enterprise applications, including 3D maps, medical telepresence, interactive models for construction, design and architecture industries, among many others. And above all, we’re excited to help make all of these a reality without the dorky glasses.



Above, HP Labs team members (L to R): David Fattal - Principal Scientist, Sonny Vo - post-doc, Zhen Peng - Principal Scientist


Read the full Nature article here, and view more videos and images: A multi-directional backlight for a wide-angle, glasses-free three-dimensional display 



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Impressive key patent for your future!
This technique could allow to combine photogrammetric restitution, cloudworks and any 3D treatments to be usable thru teleworking for (hope) an affordable  price.

The ergonomy of this technique will probably strongly depend on the number of parallaxes so I have one important  question :
Before to market it, will you analyze medically compare the impact on the eyes and the brain with other 3D tools?

my htc mobile phone can take and view 3d photos already ??

Isn't this what Nintendo has been doing with their 3DS game system already?


@Baudouin: we use standard LEDs to illuminate the display so we do not expect any hazard. We have not tested the display with respec to eye fatigue yet.


@Rebel: yes your phone can render 2-view 3D images, where your perceive depth if you look at the screen from the right direction. Notice however that when you tilt or rotate the screen, the 3D effect disappears. The technology we have developped renders 64-view 3D images that give you the correct perspective of displayed content when you tilt/rotate the screen, allowing you to "see behind objects".


@ CasualObserver: same comment, your game console can render 2 views creating the impression of depth when you look at the display straight on, but the perspective of objects does not adjust as you tilt/rotate the display.

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