3D display cube creates images in real-time

AUTHOR: Inavate

Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has unveiled a new handheld, 3D communications tool. The gCubik, developed by the NICT earlier in the year, reproduces 3D images, inside a 10cm-per-side cube, that are viewable without special glasses. Now, the gCubik+i can generate the images in real-time allowing them to be manipulated using touchscreen panels and on-board motion sensors.

All the six faces of the cube display 3D images, allowing users to see the display from every possible direction. By adding special sensors, users can also interact with the inside images.
The gCubik was born out of a drive at NICT to develop 3D technology that does not require 3D glasses. The organisation said: "Our "gCubik", a cubic auto-stereoscopic display, which has been designed as a tool to support communication among multiple users, is a graspable display born from this new concept."
Each face of the display includes a touch panel. Speakers for posture and acceleration are included inside. Therefore, users can have simple interaction with the 3D images displayed. This now makes it possible to develop applications and begin discussions towards using the display as a communication tool.
The Institute hopes that, by allowing users to share 3D images instead of pictures, it can provide a new means for future communications. "We plan to propose a new interaction paradigm, and develop applications, for multi-user collaborative tasks that exploit the concept of ‘Graspable 3D Images’," the Institute said in a statement. "Furthermore, we plan to make the display which is wireless, even more compact and improve its image quality in preparation for commercial applications."
Technical explanation from NICT
Each face of the display uses integral photography, which is one of the various methods to display 3D images without special glasses (auto-stereoscopic). When viewing a real scene, humans see a different image with each eye, which depends on the distance and the different position of the eyes (binocular parallax). When we move our heads, we see different images (motion parallax). These are some of clues on how humans perceive depth (3D). Integral photography uses a tightly packed micro convex lens array to record distinct 'elemental' images, and when these images are again viewed through the same micro-lens array, they reproduce the 3D integrated image of the scene with both binocular and motion parallax. The Institute’s system utilises the electronic integral photography which uses an LCD display, instead of the recorded photograph, to display the elemental images.
Integral photography makes use of the principle that convex lenses are designed so that parallel incoming light rays converge into its focal point. Conversely, all the ray lights coming from a light source at the focal point will come out of the lens as parallel rays in the direction of the line joining the light source with the lens principal point.
By arranging and displaying appropriate elemental images on the LCD pixels corresponding to each lens, each screen of the display functions as a window where different views of the scene can be observed depending of the viewing angle. By using integral photography (IP), horizontal and vertical motion parallax for 3D images can be observed without special glasses.
Besides, auto-stereoscopic displays using lenticular lenses are more widely known than the ones that use integral photography, but they only provide horizontal motion parallax, a subset of the parallax provided by IP.