3D TV Finally gets a boost

3D glasses, despite making you look horrifically like an 80s-movie nerd, do an OK job. That’s what researchers at the Tsukuba University in Japan thought too. So they made them better – much better. This new project from Tsukuba is prototyping a different kind of 3D display that focuses on multiple layers of depth that give enhanced depth perception and better focus.

Other Japanese projects recently displayed at CEATEC 2011 are bringing 3D TV to a whole another level (thank you Japan) by doing away with the silly Urkel-looking glasses entirely and using just the naked eye for their 3D experiences. BUT, since they are nowhere near as visually impressive as Tsukuba, who cares.

Standard 3D glasses lack the parallax needed for better viewing, with just horizontal parallax. New technology from the project at Tsukuba uses fifty unique viewpoints, ten horizontally and 5 vertically. The effect of these increased viewpoints is a greater range of viewing and significantly increased resolution.

The increased resolution reduces the amount of beveling from 3D viewing, giving the visuals a much more natural appearance. “One feature of this system is that, if you don’t have a single high-resolution panel, you can use an array of small panels, with lenses arranged so as to hide the bezels. Doing that costs money, but in principle, it isn’t very difficult to increase the resolution,” says Professor Hideki Kakeya while pointing out that the technology is still not quite ready to bring to market.

Unfortunately when Kakeya says the technology isn’t quite ready yet for market, he doesn’t mean for the entertainment market. The technology instead is being designed for real-time interaction scenarios like those found in robot tele-operations, 3D drawing, surgery simulations and other scenarios where depth perception is critical to success.

Surely at some point in the very-near future someone will recognize that re-purposing the technology for the entertainment market would give them the funding necessary to bring the cost of the technology down to a reasonable level–which could help them get it into production faster.

Kakeya’s work on depth perception focuses on using Coarse Integral Volumetric Imaging (CIVI), and is quickly making progress by combining multi-view and volumetric solutions with a multilayered approach to structure in integral imaging.