MIT claims glasses-free 3D breakthrough

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is taking on glasses-free 3D and claims to have developed an approach that will save power, widen viewing angles and create a more realistic 3D illusion. HR3D builds on an existing method that uses two layers of liquid crystal displays and is currently used in Nintendo’s 3DS portable gaming system.

Instead of displaying the layers in vertical bands (the method used in the 3DS) or pinholes, MIT Media Lab researchers have created a prototype where the top LCD displays a pattern customised to the image displayed beneath it.

Ramesh Raskar, associate professor, heads up the Camera Culture Group. He worked with Doug Lanman, Yun Hee Kim and Matthew Hirsch to rethink glasses-free technology considering how, in the real world, as a viewer moves around an object their perspective on it changes.

Lanman said on the MIT website that a convincing 3D simulation might require a display that offers a dozen different perspectives as the viewer moves from right to left.

He continues to argue that such a display would use less power as the parallax barrier blocks less light.

The concept was presented in a paper at the SIGGRAPH Asia graphics conference last year.

Neil Dodgson, professor of graphics and imaging at the University of Cambridge, UK, said Raskar’s group had developed a clever idea but added that HR3D was 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 said.

Lanman does believe that the algorithm can be refined and will use less processing power in the future.