New technology allows 3D viewing without glasses

January 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
You've heard about the emergence of 3D screens for televisions, but will you have to wear those funny glasses to get the effect? New technology will allow you to watch 3D TV without special eyewear.

Could 3D goggles be the future of fashion? The number one consumer reaction to any survey about the coming 3D revolution is, "Do I still need to wear those glasses?"

Manufacturers are concerned, and all are taking measures to make the apparel more comfortable, and more colorful. At the same time, many others are working hard to develop autostereo. Autostereo is the term for 3D viewing without glasses. It does not have quite as wide a viewing area as the kind with glasses.

"We don't use glasses for our technology," boasts Philippe Roche, CEO of Alioscopy USA. "Using a pretty simple concept, based on hardware and software, it should be also pretty easily and quickly adopted by the industry in general. Hollywood and the design industry as well."

Roche's company goes beyond the lenticular lens that engraves the screen vertically with angles for the left and right eye -- and splits it into 8 angles. Director David Lynch touts its benefits on the company's home page. However, glasses-free technology is complex. Major companies such as Philips have abandoned it.

If you're off to the side just a little bit, you lose the 3D effect. So, trust me, you want the glasses, for now.

What might save autostereo is the cellphone. Research firm DisplaySearch forecasts that in 8 years, eyewear will still be necessary for most 3D applications. However, glasses-free Mobile phones will be the largest 3D display application of all.

This 3D phone, using a MasterImage screen, is available already in Japan. It requires no glasses, and the screen adds little to the cost. Phones like this will be introduced to the U.S. later this year.