Tensor Display for Glasses-Free 3D ViewingCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 12, 2012 11:36AM
Three dimensional video has been a fad that has come and gone in media before, but many believe it will soon become the standard because now we have the technology needed to make it work. Unfortunately this technology is somewhat limited by requiring the viewer to look only where intended and in many cases special glasses are needed for the effect. Researchers at MIT though have developed a new kind of 3D display, they are calling a Tensor Display, which uses holographic techniques to get around these limitations.
Holograms are actually the product of carefully constructed interference patterns, so for any display that uses them, including the Nintendo 3DS, multiple panels are needed. In the case of the 3DS, two LCDs are used, with the bottom one alternating dark and light bands to cause each eye to only see one image. The Tensor display goes further with this concept by including different optics and even additional LCD panels. Already versions of the display have been made with three and five LCD panels.
This is not exactly a technology you want to wait for before making a major display purchase as there are some technology hurdles to overcome. For one LCDs with a refresh rate of 360 Hz have to be developed, but given we are already at 240 Hz, that may not be much longer. Also the design still needs to be optimized to a smaller thickness. Having the multiple panels in a row like this limits the viewing angle greatly. Without special refractive lenses, the angle is just 30º and with them it is 50º, which is far from the common 178º of modern 2D LCD displays.
Compared to what has already been overcome though, these are not as daunting challenges as they may appear. If it was not for the layered panel approach the LCDs would need a pixel density far beyond what has been achieved and a refresh rate of 1000 Hz. Also the amount of processing required for a 3D image like this is far beyond what 2D images require, but through advanced algorithms and some intelligent compression, this has been dropped to something more manageable.