Glasses-free 3D screens let you see the wider picture

Get ready to chuck away your 3D glasses. A way of producing 3D TV images that work no matter where you are in the room could see images stand out from a flat TV screen – without the need for any silly eyeware.

Depth perception depends on differences between what our two eyes see, an effect called parallax. 3D movies simulate that effect by projecting the two views simultaneously onto the same screen. Viewers need special glasses that block one view from each eye at high speeds.

The trick can work without glasses, too, as long as the screen includes structures called "parallax barriers", which deliver a different view to each eye. Nintendo's 3DS handheld games console, for example, uses this technology. But the effect is quite crude and viewers must sit in a specific spot for it to work – fine for an individual holding a small screen, but no good for groups. Some, large glasses-free 3D screens are slowly becoming available on the market, but they also require the viewer to sit in certain "sweet spots".

Ramesh Raskar and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media have developed "Tensor" – compressive displays that can create a wide field of view by splitting a 3D image into 2D slices for processing, in a similar way to a CAT scan.

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