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Researchers at De Montfort University said the autostereoscopic display overcomes many of the barriers faced by other 3D visualisation systems, including the need to wear special glasses and only being available to one viewer at a time.
In contrast, the De Montfort system is designed to allow multiple viewers to view 3D images while moving freely around a normal room-sized area without goggles.
The 3D technology is underpinned by two main innovations. The first is an LCD front screen that produces a stereo image pair on alternate pixel rows. Known as spatial multiplexing, the technique focuses light on the correct horizontal line of the LCD via a lenticular sheet placed behind it. This enables the same pair of stereo images to be seen by every viewer.
The second, and most crucial, innovation of the De Montfort system is its use of light steering optics. The optics are used to steer beams of light called ‘exit pupils’ to the eyes of the viewer, which are followed as they move by the use of head tracking technology. Illumination is supplied by an array of high-brightness white LEDs.
The autostereoscopic display was developed as De Montfort’s part of an EU-backed 3D research project called Attest, which also included Philips.
According to Dr Phil Surman, part of the project team, further research would move the technology to the point of commercialisation within 10 years.
Surman said a fully developed system would bring several novel applications, not least the ability to produce separate images from the same screen. This would allow two viewers to see different programmes on the same screen, or for one to employ the display as a computer monitor while another uses it as a television.