MIT dumps glasses for true-3D LCD system

MIT has developed a glasses-free 3D system using three liquid crystal display (LCD) screens to create moving holographic images.

Everyone knows that while 3D can at times be impressive, it is mostly a gimmicky diversion that involves wearing cumbersome glasses in dark rooms.

While 3D sets may be selling better than the biggest cynics expected, the general consensus seems to be that glasses-free is the only way it will go truly mainstream. MIT points out that the depth achieved by the 3D blockbuster screens is just a facsimile of true 3D. To answer this problem, a team at MIT thinks they have developed a method that simplifies producing holographic 3D images.

The MIT Media Lab has constructed a system which relies on several layers of readily available LCD panels already found in most flat screens.

Creating a holographic picture requires pixels that are far tinier than current technology can handle. But by cleverly combining a number of screens researchers could soon offer working displays that operate at refresh rates that are not far off those currently available, and they have developed a prototype device.

Using a similar approach to the glasses free Nintendo 3DS, the team found a way of filtering the light emitted through an extra LCD, which allowed them to create an image which appeared different when viewed from other angles.

To make sense of all the information when three screens are building up a moving holographic – and reduce the refresh rate from 1,000 hertz to a more manageable 360 hertz – the team used software similar to that used to build up 3D images in a CAT scan.

This stitched the picture into a holographic image viewable from 20 degree viewing angle.